It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren. First, he saw his stock drop all the way from being considered a top 3 pick in the NHL Draft to being eventually selected 17th overall by the Leafs. Then, he arrived in Toronto for the team’s Development Camp. Finally he signed a three-year entry level deal with his new club. Oh, and he finally got a haircut.
In his latest article for The Athletic, David Alter breaks down Liljegren’s showing during the Leafs’ two scrimmage games earlier this week. Evidently he played well enough to earn a contract with the team, but it was the way in which the Leafs’ management spoke about the young Swede that was particularly revealing.
“He's an outstanding skater with great poise out there,” said GM Lou Lamoriello. “I was impressed with him not taking chances or trying to be (too) impressive, because he’s a rushing defenseman.”
High praise from an individual who doesn’t hand out compliments often. Does Liljegren have what it takes to stick with the Leafs long-term? He’ll have some competition once main camp starts in September, but don’t count him out just yet. If there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s playing the underdog role and defying the critics.