With the 17th Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft the Toronto Maple Leafs Have Selected Timothy Liljegren From the Rögle BK in the SHL.
About Timothy Liljegren
This will be an interesting pick for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they selected one of the biggest drops in the draft with Timothy Liljegren at 17th overall. Liljegren dealt with some injuries early in the season and never really got his footing during the season. Because of that, the 18-year-old defenceman dropped significantly in the final rankings.
— NHL (@NHL) June 24, 2017
In 19 games with Rögle BK he scored just one goal and four assists. They loaned him to Timrå IK where he had one assist in five games for the his loan club. That was after he put up 22 points in 29 games in 2015-16 which is why he was originally ranked so high. After all, he’s an offensive defenceman that needs to work on his defensive play.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt:
It’s fair to say that Timothy Liljegren’s 2016-17 season hasn’t been ideal. This was supposed to be the year where he would really make an impact on the elite level in Sweden and internationally. Instead, he has suffered from a bad case of mononucleosis which put him out of the first half of the season, and the rest has been a struggle for him to get back on the development chart.
The extraordinary talent and star potential of Liljegren, however, is so vast that not even this season seems to have ruined his reputation. He was a top prospect going into the season, and he still is. What is it about his game that makes few people doubt him? Well, the secret (which is no secret) lies in his offensive qualities. To underline this point, the fact that he is compared to Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty, two of the NHL’s most dominant offensive d-men, probably says it all.
Liljegren is not just gifted with an intelligent hockey mind, making him a playmaking asset for his team everywhere on the ice. He has also acquired a certain toolbox of skills to put his intelligence into practice. His skating as well as his puck handling abilities, and not to forget his shot, are some of the things that make him stand out of the horde. He doesn’t necessarily have some additional layers that allow him to do more than his peers. He just does everything better.
On the other hand, there are aspects of Liljegren’s game that he needs to improve in order to meet the high expectations that come with being a projected early pick in the NHL draft. Please note that his size isn’t one of them – even though he’s only six feet tall, I refuse to downgrade him for that cause. However, the way he uses his size can get better. That applies to his defensive game in general.
We can go on and on about Liljegren’s impressive production numbers during his years with Rögle’s junior team and talk even more about his elite-level potential. But, ultimately, he is yet to prove his worth in a senior league. It will be interesting, to say the least, to follow Liljegren’s further development. And also how he will answer to all this attention that comes with being a top prospect in the draft. It will be a mental test for him.
In spite of all the commotion, young Liljegren seems undisturbed and focused. In response to being monitored by 20 scouts in a game in the Swedish Hockey League in November, he said: “Of course it’s fun that they come to see me, but I’ve learned to shut that out.”
He also said, upon aiming to impress the NHL organizations: “Hockey is always the best thing I know, but now I have that little extra excitement. It’s fun coming to practice every day, trying to get better.”
How This Affects the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Plans
It was no secret that the Leafs were going to take a defenceman with their first-round pick. It could be a blessing in disguise that Liljegren fell to 17th overall, but the Leafs will really have to work with him on his defensive plays and decision making.
With the plethora of Leafs prospects looking to make their jump to the big club, Liljegren will be able to fly under the radar a bit as he continues to develop. He might find himself among their top 10 prospects, but there are a number of defensive players in their organization that sit above him. Still, with their signing of two other Swedes, this could be a great place for Liljegren to grow.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.