Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t one to throw around praise liberally. His calm, cool and calculated nature can be unnerving to some and his criticism can cut like a razor. Maybe that’s why it was so surprising to hear Lamoriello heap praise on youngster Timothy Liljegren during the GM’s appearance on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio yesterday afternoon.
Liljegren, an 18-year-old Swedish defenceman, was expected to go in the top-five of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft but miraculously fell to the Leafs at pick #17. Lamoriello and his scouts were thrilled and wasted no time in selecting the big defender.
“Certainly, our scouts have seen him, and he was heavily scouted the year prior to his draft, and then he actually played on several teams last year because of his mononucleosis, which gave him a major setback,” recalled Lamoriello. “He had a serious case of it. Our people did not lose sight of what he did before. He has something that you can’t teach: He never lost his skating ability and talent.”
It’s clear that Liljegren impressed during his draft season, but what are his team’s thoughts now that he’s officially a Maple Leaf?
“I had the opportunity to see him in Plymouth this year and also in our prospect camp, and we’re extremely pleased,” said Lamoriello. “This is a young man who has outstanding hockey sense and outstanding skating ability. Once again, it’s only potential, so we have to see how quickly he develops. But defencemen with his talent don’t come along often.”
Wow. High praise from Lou. We’re excited to see what this kid can do when training camp opens up. There’s certainly a huge opportunity in front of him in the Leafs lineup, what he decides to do with the opportunity is completely up to him.