Last week, young Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren was promoted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ active roster, but he never played and was sent down to the Marlies again quickly. I was hoping he’d be given a chance on the team’s third paring, but wasn’t to be. As you will see in this post, I think he deserves a chance to have a go-round for the Maple Leafs this season.
Is There a Chance Liljegren Might Be Traded?
At the time of his Liljegren’s promotion, Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas suggested last Tuesday that he’d be looking for forward help coming into the April 12 trade deadline. Dubas also said that he was willing to trade a good prospect to improve the team. There have been rumors that Liljegren might be that prospect. Perhaps he is.
Liljegren came into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with the reputation as a highly-skilled, right-handed defenseman, and that seems to be a prized commodity in the NHL. His future looked bright. However, until the 2019-20 season with the Toronto Marlies, Liljegren never seemed to put his game together.
However, in the AHL last season, he finally started to rack up points. At the same time, his 200-foot game improved and he became a strong defender AND a stronger offensive defenseman. He was even given a chance for an 11-game period with the Maple Leafs, but he just didn’t get untracked. In fact, it seemed as if he lost confidence.
Liljegren Is Ready for a Call-Up
This season with the Marlies, his entire game has improved and he’s become a highly-confident young defenseman. He’s almost too good for the AHL and is such a good puck handler that he sometimes makes opponents look silly or leaves them in a pile of ice chips and snow. He’s much better at opening the passing and shooting lanes, and he’s good at moving the puck up ice.
Liljegren is playing well enough with the Marlies this season, that he deserves a call-up and another chance to show what he can do. Fortunately for the Maple Leafs, but – in a way – not so fortunate for Liljegren, the Maple Leafs defense has stayed healthy for most of the season and no injury-covered call-ups have been needed.
Because it looks as if the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this season, it seems wise to give him some NHL game experience so – just in case – he’ll be ready for on-ice action in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs are also high on Rasmus Sandin, but Sandin is injured. As a result, it looks as if Liljegren is the likely call-up, but when?
We’re Starting to See an Experienced Liljegren
The Liljegren that has emerged with the Marlies is a strong transition puck mover. He doesn’t get rattled nearly as much into mistakes. His all-round game has improved; and, as was always his strength, he’s been continuing to make quick, smart decisions that help his team on the breakout. He’s always seemed to be good on the stretch pass and seems less timid than he was even last season. For example, he’s jumping into the rush more often and is growing in his ability to make high-speed plays.
Liljegren’s always had the reputation of being good in transition and playing a strong defensive game and . He’s become even better at making wise decisions with the puck. In short, he’s probably ready to defend in the higher-speed NHL.
Should he return to the NHL with the Maple Leafs this season, fans who haven’t seen him play recently might be surprised at how much stronger Liljegren has become in all areas of his game.
He’s ready for another chance in the NHL, and I would love to see him get that chance sooner rather than later.
/ 6 hours ago
After a Game 1 loss in which they allowed five goals, Joel Quenneville has...
/ 24 hours ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting a few players into their lineup, while also...
/ 4 days ago
Reports are Adam Larsson is close on a three or four-year extension with the...
/ 5 days ago
TSN's Darren Dreger notes that Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie is likely to test...
/ 6 days ago
Kevyn Adams didn’t seem angry, but he did seem a bit annoyed that there...
/ 6 days ago
After John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were fired by New York Rangers owner David...
/ 1 week ago
The Edmonton Oilers are making ground on a four-year extension with defenseman Adam Larsson.
/ 1 week ago
As per reports by multiple sources, John Tortorella has agreed to leave the Columbus...
/ 2 weeks ago
George Parros says he doesn't want the gig as head of NHL Department of...