2022-23 Player Review: Eric Robinson found his scoring touch
The defense regressed a bit, however
Can you guess which Blue Jackets player ranks 34th in franchise history in games played? Precisely in between Geoff Sanderson (261) and Vladislav Gavrikov (256).
Oh, right. You read the headline. So, yeah, the answer is Eric Robinson, who somehow has played in 259 games despite feeling like he signed as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton just a year or so ago.
Robinson is close to catching the likes of Derek Dorsett (280), Derek MacKenzie (279), Marc Methot (275), and Josh Anderson (267). He is already ahead of players such as Mark Letestu (255), Markus Nutivaara (244), Antoine Vermette (241), and Pierre-Luc Dubois (239). Weird, right?
When Robinson made his NHL debut in a brief cameo on April 7, 2018, Letestu assisted Anderson on a goal and Markus Hannikainen and Scott Harrington assisted Brandon Dubinsky on another as the Jackets fell 4-2 in Nashville. Taylor Chorney, Matt Gourley, Ian Cole, Thomas Vanek, and Alex Broadhurst also suited up for Columbus. One of those is a lie.
All this is to say...wow, Eric Robinson has been around a long time and has seen a lot in his Columbus tenure. It's easy to think of him as the player who scrapped and hustled to earn a roster spot among all the injuries of the 2019-20 season, but at this point he's a well-established fixture in the lineup.
Robinson is a checking line winger who has great size and speed, but not much in the way of offensive puck skills. At least, that was the book on him, until he somehow started to find a scoring touch last season. Thanks in large part to playing with guys like Sean Kuraly, Alexandre Texier, and Justin Danforth, Robinson scored 10/17/27 in 56 games in 2021-22, after scoring just 15/15/30 in his first 120 games.
He followed that up by setting a new career high in goals this year with 12. Is Robinson a legit scoring threat now? Not that 12 goals is something super impressive, but that's great production from a depth guy. Now, he did also play a career high 13:57 per game, which is stretching the limit of how much a fourth liner should be deployed. He scored when playing with Mathieu Olivier – an offensive downgrade from Texier/Danforth – and earned the occassional promotion to third line action.
5v5 CF%: 41.8
5v5 FF%: 41.7
Robinson signed an early extension in late July 2021 which kicked in this season. He has one season remaining with a $1.6 million cap hit. He will be a 29 year old unrestricted free agent when the contract exprires next summer. Given the growing glut of bottom 6 wingers in the organization, I wonder if Robinson could be part of a trade package this summer. I wonder if younger and cheaper players such as Olivier and Liam Foudy make Robinson expendable.
Remember when Robinson scored a hat trick? That is a thing that happened!
As cool as it is to get scoring from the checking line, the primary responsibility is defense and, um, that was, eeeee, that was lacking this year. Robinson has been good in the defensive zone before so it's clearly a systemic issue of the Larsen era. But let's pick one example and go with Robinson being a -3 in just 11:05 vs. Florida on April Fool's Day, a 7-0 Panthers win.
Being somewhat of an offensive threat when he gets a breakaway is a positive development for Robinson. He's fine in the role he plays, and every team needs at least one guy like this. I dock him a few points for the defensive regression.
What do you think?