College defenseman Dennis Robertson has signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and will join the Checkers for the remainder of the season.
The Hurricanes acquired Robertson, a 22-year-old who recently completed a four-year career at Brown University, from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a trade involving John-Michael Liles and Tim Gleason in January. Toronto’s sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Robertson scored 70 points (17g, 53a) and picked up 267 penalty minutes in 128 games with Brown, including two seasons as team captain.
“Dennis had a very good collegiate career at Brown, and was consistently recognized for his play and leadership,” said Ron Francis, the Hurricanes’ vice president of hockey operations, in a team release. “We are excited to see him begin his professional career.”
Robertson, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound native of Fort Saint John, British Columbia, earned First Team All-Ivy honors and a nomination for the ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman award this season. He led Brown defensemen in scoring in all four years, including 17 points this season (6g, 11a) that ranked fourth on the team overall. He paced the team in penalty minutes for each of the last three seasons and led this year’s team with a plus-11 rating.
With Charlotte, Robertson may start in a “black ace” role typical of players who complete their college or junior seasons while the Checkers are still playing, much like current Checkers rookies Brendan Woods and Austin Levi did one year ago. However, those players have also been known to step into meaningful games right away, with Danny Biega, Ryan Murphy and Brock McGinn all suiting up for Calder Cup Playoff games last season. Being more of an experienced rookie (as an example, he is two years older than new Checkers teammate Keegan Low) Robertson may have a better chance of making a quick impact.
Robertson is the first in an annual group of rookies who join the Checkers each spring, though many of the Hurricanes’ top prospects, including forwards McGinn and Sergey Tolchinsky, defenseman Trevor Carrick and goalie Daniel Altshuller, are on very good Ontario Hockey League teams that are likely to go on the kinds of playoff runs that would further delay their availability.
Of the five Hurricanes prospects who played collegiately this season, Robertson was the only senior, meaning the others would have to make decisions to forego their remaining eligibility and sign with the Hurricanes, much like Woods did as a sophomore last season, in order to play for the Checkers this season.