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Leafs' Robertson: 'I don't give a f--k' that my name isn't what it once was

Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Warning: Story contains coarse language

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Robertson doesn't seem bothered that he's not viewed the same way he used to be in terms of his potential.

"I know my name isn't what it used to be. I don't give a fuck," Robertson told The Athletic's Joshua Kloke with a smile.

Despite enduring numerous injuries and watching the club overhaul its depth chart, the 22-year-old still thinks he can stick in the NHL.

"I believe. I believe in anything," he said.

Robertson became the Maple Leafs' best prospect soon after they drafted him 53rd overall in 2019. He racked up 55 goals and 31 assists over 46 games with the OHL's Peterborough Petes the following season, then debuted with the Leafs in the bubble, scoring a goal in four playoff games.

However, he hurt his knee during his regular-season debut in the abbreviated 2021 campaign, tore his adductor with the AHL's Toronto Marlies later that season, broke his fibula with the farm team early in 2021-22, and then injured his shoulder when Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy hit him in December 2022.

Robertson opted for surgery on the latter ailment, which ended his season. He's been limited to 31 regular-season contests in the NHL over three campaigns, mustering just three goals and four assists.

Matthew Knies has since usurped Robertson as the Maple Leafs' most tantalizing young forward. The Hobey Baker Award finalist, who'll turn 21 in October, collected an assist in three regular-season games with Toronto last season before adding a goal and three assists in seven playoff appearances.

Knies is expected to play a larger role with the club in 2023-24. He departed the University of Minnesota to sign an entry-level deal with Toronto in April.

Robertson is now fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, and he'll have plenty to prove as he enters the final year of his own entry-level pact.

"In the long run, I know this is an important year for me," he said. "I didn't want to miss training camp. It was a tough decision for me. It really was. But it was something I had to be mature about."

So far in camp, Robertson has played on a line with players like Pontus Holmberg and Nick Abruzzese, who aren't locks to make the team. Robertson is still exempt from waivers, so he can be sent down to the AHL without the risk of being claimed by other NHL squads.

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