As the Toronto Maple Leafs look to the future of the organization, several young players stand out. In this post, I’ll look at two of them and discuss a number of their positive characteristics.
Quick Hit One: Bobby McMann Shines at the AHL Level
The Toronto Marlies played the Laval Rocket two times in two days (Friday and Saturday). In Friday’s first game, the Marlies won handily by a score of 4-1. But in the second half of the back-to-back, they lost to the Rocket for the first time this season.
The final score was 7 to 3. It was not a strong performance for Toronto in the game. They fell behind by three goals in the first period; and, they never recovered.
However, Bobby McMann had a strong game. He scored a pair of goals in the game, bringing his point total to 10 goals and seven assists (for 17 points) in 19 games this season. He has also been playing well lately, with seven goals in his last seven AHL games.
Two aspects McMann has been showing more and more are his speed and power. On one of the goals, he simply out-powered and out-skated his opponent to put home a rebound.
Quick Hit Two: Hats Off to Timothy Liljegren on His Great Season
Timothy Liljegren has had nothing short of a great season so far. A healthy scratch in last year’s postseason, he’s burst out of the pack to show strong development as a defenseman. He’s now become a regular in the team’s top-four defensive pairings and is averaging a career-high 18:43 of TOI (time on ice) per game.
Liljegren has contributed four goals and nine assists (for 13 points) in his 41 games played. In addition, he’s been engaged physically. He has collected 22 penalty minutes with a rating of plus-19. His offensive skills are growing and his hockey IQ is off the charts.
Liljegren has become more than competent; he’s become an impactful two-way defenseman. Given these advances in his play, does he deserve more time on the power-play units? It should be interesting to see how his head coach Sheldon Keefe decides to deploy him.
In a perfect world, both Liljegren and his partner Rasmus Sandin might have been better served with more sheltered minutes. For example, the hard forechecking of the Boston Bruins made life difficult for both of them in last Wednesday’s game. That hasn’t been possible this season.
One thing Maple Leafs’ fans can be pretty sure of is that neither Liljegren nor Sandin are moving anywhere in a trade at the deadline – regardless of who comes back. Unless something explosive happens, which seems unlikely, both these two youngsters are destined to remain with the Maple Leafs for at least the near future.
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