Lou Lamoriello has always had the reputation of being stoic and unnerving; this was the case in New Jersey, and it is now something the Toronto Maple Leafs are also contending with. Despite this era-transcending perception of the character, his close-circle knows him as a man that is calm, cool, and calculated. Henceforth, when it was reported earlier today that the Toronto GM had high-praise for prospect Timothy Liljegren, rumors spread concerning the potentiality that the youngster starts the season in 'The 6ix'.
At first glance this may come as a huge surprise, but when you start analyzing the player's history it becomes quite evident that his talent is superior to many of the individuals that were drafted before him. This is because his descent in the prospect rankings prior to this year's NHL Entry Draft are not attributable to a decrease in skills, but to a medical condition known as mononucleosis - the 'kissing disease'. In fact, one could say that if it were not for the player's illness, he may have never been drafted by the Leafs, considering that heading into last season he was projected as being the 2nd best prospect overall.
Truthfully, if we round things up, there are three possible options when it comes to where Liljegren will be playing in 2017-2018:
1 - The Toronto Maple Leafs
2 - The Toronto Marlies
3 - Swedish Hockey League
It may be a long-stretch to expect the 18 year-old to make the Maple Leafs line-up as of next season, but a good camp and strong performances during pre-season could temporarily earn the future star a spot on the big club's roster for the start of the season. More realistically, as corroborated by Lamoriello earlier this summer, one should expect to see Liljegren suit-up for the Marlies, or to continue his development in Sweden by playing the SHL:
There are certainly advantages to staying in Sweden at such a young age: he'll be able to further the growth of his game in the comfort of his native country and away from the spotlights, allowing him to ease more graciously into the role of a professional player.
That being said, Liljegren may have learnt everything he's got to learn about that particular style of play, and it may be more beneficial for his progression that he obtains the opportunity to perfect his skills within the North American framework (smaller ice, faster pace). This could prove extremely helpful in allowing the puck-moving defenceman to become more familiar with the timing required in this type of game, which will inherently translate into better decisions on the ice when it is time to decide whether to pinch or to play more defensively.
Lastly, as per Leafs Hub, a stint in the AHL for the young Swede would also be an occasion for him to experiment first-hand the type of strategies employed by Toronto, primarily because both the Leafs and the Marlies rely on similar tactics when it comes to the powerplay - the two teams use the 4 forward and 1 defense strategy. By continuing to perfect his game under Toronto's organizational umbrella, Liljegren will be able to ease into the role of a top puck-moving defenceman more adequately and more prepared than if he were to continue another year in Sweden.
Until we know where he'll end up, here's a highlight reel of his stupendous skills: