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Nick Robertson’s race to make OHL history

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Robertson has cracked the top 30 for OHL goals scored in a U19 season. How high can he go?

Peterborough Petes v Oshawa Generals Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

Nick Robertson is having a fabulous year with the Peterborough Petes, and they are going for it this season with some key trades to add some scoring power. Robertson doesn’t need that much help to score though, as he leads the OHL with 55 goals in 46 games played.

With his 54th and 55th goals on Sunday, Robertson leapt up to to the top 30 overall in OHL goal scoring by U19 players. Robertson just turned 18 last September and he is about the same age as most players who are yet to be drafted, and for a player his age, his season is spectacular. How high can he go on that all-time list? He’s got 6 games to add to his total, but the bar is set very high.

In 1980-1981, the first season of the OHL, future NHLer Tony Tanti scored 81 goals in 67 games. Like Robertson, he was born in September, so this was his season where he’d just turned 17, making his feat almost impossible to beat.

John Tavares couldn’t score more than Tanti. He’s second on the list with 72 goals scored when he was an exceptional 16-year-old. One goal behind Tavares at 71 is Eric Lindros who actually turned 18 during that season, so he was an old man compared to the other two.

After those three seasons, comes the performances of the mere mortals. And somewhere on this list is where Robertson will finish up. Note: list was made before Robertson blasted his way onto it.

OHL U19 Players 1980-present

Rank Name Season Team Games Played Goals Assists Points PPG PIM
Rank Name Season Team Games Played Goals Assists Points PPG PIM
1 Tony Tanti (LW) 1980-1981 Oshawa Generals 67 81 69 150 2.24 197
2 John Tavares (C) 2006-2007 Oshawa Generals 67 72 62 134 2 60
3 Eric Lindros (C) 1990-1991 Oshawa Generals 57 71 78 149 2.61 189
4 Graeme Bonar (RW) 1984-1985 Soo Greyhounds 66 66 71 137 2.08 93
5 Corey Locke (C) 2002-2003 Ottawa 67's 66 63 88 151 2.29 83
6 Wayne Presley (RW) 1983-1984 Kitchener Rangers 70 63 76 139 1.99 156
7 Scott Tottle (RW) 1983-1984 Peterborough Petes 70 63 47 110 1.57 24
8 Patrick Kane (RW) 2006-2007 London Knights 58 62 83 145 2.5 52
9 Tony Tanti (LW) 1981-1982 Oshawa Generals 57 62 64 126 2.21 138
10 Vitali Yachmenyov (RW) 1993-1994 North Bay Centennials 66 61 52 113 1.71 18
11 John Tucker (C) 1982-1983 Kitchener Rangers 70 60 80 140 2 33
12 Dan Quinn (C) 1982-1983 Belleville Bulls 70 59 88 147 2.1 27
13 Wayne Groulx (C) 1983-1984 Soo Greyhounds 70 59 78 137 1.96 48
14 Jeff Shevalier (LW) 1992-1993 North Bay Centennials 62 59 54 113 1.82 46
15 Mario Simioni (LW) 1981-1982 Toronto Marlboros 68 58 60 118 1.74 88
16 Dave MacLean (RW) 1983-1984 Belleville Bulls 70 58 51 109 1.56 47
17 Steven Stamkos (C/W) 2007-2008 Sarnia Sting 61 58 47 105 1.72 88
18 John Tavares (C) 2008-2009 totals 56 58 46 104 1.86 54
- - - London Knights 24 32 18 50 2.08 22
- - - Oshawa Generals 32 26 28 54 1.69 32
19 Bob Wren (C) 1992-1993 Detroit Jr. Red Wings 63 57 88 145 2.3 91
20 Keith Primeau (C) 1989-1990 Niagara Falls Thunder 65 57 70 127 1.95 97
21 Tyler Toffoli (RW) 2010-2011 Ottawa 67's 68 57 51 108 1.59 33
22 Dave Andreychuk (LW) 1981-1982 Oshawa Generals 67 57 43 100 1.49 71
23 Jeff Vaive (C) 1981-1982 Ottawa 67's 68 56 95 151 2.22 90
24 Jon Sim (LW) 1995-1996 Sarnia Sting 63 56 45 101 1.6 130
25 Jason Allison (C) 1993-1994 London Knights 56 55 87 142 2.54 68
26 Dave Gagner (C) 1982-1983 Brantford Alexanders 70 55 66 121 1.73 57
27 Chris Gratton (C) 1992-1993 Kingston Frontenacs 58 55 54 109 1.88 125
28 Robert Cimetta (LW) 1988-1989 Toronto Marlboros 58 55 47 102 1.76 89
29 Jeff Larmer (LW) 1980-1981 Kitchener Rangers 68 54 54 108 1.59 103
30 Mike Ricci (C) 1988-1989 Peterborough Petes 60 54 52 106 1.77 43
Elite Prospects

He just passed Mike Ricci’s 54 goals scored for the same team. Ricci turned 17 just as that season began, making him another of the future stars who were very good very young. Robertson’s age 17 season wasn’t in that class. He’s not like Tavares or Tanti, who show up on this list twice. But no one on this list has as few games played either.

Robertson’s 56th goal will put him past Jason Allison, who retired a Toronto Maple Leafs player with 154 NHL goals.

His 57th goal will put him over Jeff Vaive. Vaive is one of the cautionary tales of looking at junior scoring phenoms. He’s our grain of salt today. Listed at 5’9” and 174 lbs, Vaive followed that season up with a second OHL season that was not quite as stellar. He was drafted in the 6th round after setting that mark, and never played in the NHL. He played for 10 years in the third- and second-tier German league. In Germany3, he had more than a goal per game over 226 games. That was the 80s and 90s though, and times have changed.

If Robertson can make it to 58 goals, he ties the lesser of Tavares’s seasons, the one he split between Oshawa and London. He was almost exactly Robertson’s age that year, and he was drafted after that season was over. Getting to 58 means sharing the stage with Steven Stamkos as well as Tavares, but to be the best American on this list, Robertson needs to make it all the way past Wayne Presley at 63 goals.

How high can he go? The top 25 all time, the top 20, the top 10?