Injured Maple Leafs forward Johnsson skates before practice

Shawn McKenzie and Chris Johnston discussed developments at Maple Leafs training camp, including 18-year old Nick Robertson remaining with the main forward group, and how the NHL is trying to diminish home ice advantage for the team.

TORONTO — Andreas Johnsson’s recovery from knee surgery has brought him back to North America in time to join his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates inside the NHL bubble.

The 25-year-old winger skated before Wednesday’s practice at the Toronto Maple Leafs facility, joining goaltender Ian Scott (hip) and defenceman Timothy Liljegren (undisclosed) on the ice in a session for players rehabilitating injuries.

Johnsson intends to join the Leafs as they move into the Royal York hotel this weekend, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe, and will keep working his way back from inside the NHL’s secure zone.

“That’s a real positive sign for us,” said Keefe. “The fact that he’s come over here [from Sweden] and he went through his quarantine and all that kind of stuff. Chatting with him, he’s in good spirits and he feels good, so we’re happy to see him back around here.”

Johnsson spent the last couple months recovering at home in Gothenburg before recently returning to Toronto. He started skating again while in Sweden but hadn’t been seen on the ice here since suffering what was thought to be a season-ending injury in February.

The Leafs pegged Johnsson’s recovery at six months when he had right knee surgery on Feb. 19 — a timeline that would now put him on pace to return before the end of the first round. Keefe didn’t have any specific update on the player’s timeline Wednesday, but noted: “We’re going to have to be patient.”

The Leafs face Columbus in a best-of-five qualifying round starting Aug. 2.

Round 1 of the playoffs is scheduled to begin on Aug. 11, with the second round getting underway Aug. 25.

“He would be somebody that we could expect to see maybe, if all goes well with the end of his rehab, perhaps the beginning of the second round of the actual playoffs I think to be safe,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said earlier this month. “He’s done well with his rehab, he’s done it in Gothenburg and it’s gone very well after starting it here and then going back home at the beginning of the [COVID-19] pause.

“We’re excited to see where he’ll be at in the coming weeks.”

Johnsson suffered his injury in a Feb. 13 game against Dallas when he accidentally collided with teammate Kasperi Kapanen. That was part of a difficult season that earlier saw him miss 15 games with a broken right ankle after blocking a shot in December.

He had eight goals and 21 points in 43 games.

The left-winger’s absence appears to have helped open a spot for 18-year-old Nick Robertson, who skated on the Leafs third line Wednesday afternoon for the third straight training camp session. The 2019 second-round pick has bumped Pierre Engvall to the 13th forward in the process.

“Early on [in camp] it was a little bit slower for him, but it seems the more experience and opportunity we’ve given him that he’s done well with it,” Keefe said of Robertson.


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