The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Timothy Liljegren with the 17th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on Friday.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 24, 2017
Liljegren is a 6-foot-0, 192-pound Swedish defenceman with offensive flair. After playing 19 games in the Swedish Hockey League this past year, he scored five points (1-4-5), numbers identical to his SHL rookie season as a 16-year-old.
Entering the draft, it seemed Toronto was interested in right handed defender Callan Foote before he was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning at number 14. Shortly afterwards, offensive defender Juuso Valimaki was taken one spot ahead at number 16 by the Calgary Flames, but rest assured the Leafs have still made a strong selection.
Ranked sixth amongst European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Liljegren would likely have drafted higher if he’d had more opportunity to play.
After contracting mononucleosis last summer, he needed most of the fall to recuperate which lowered his overall draft ranking. He was ranked second by TSN’s Bob McKenzie before the season, and was ranked third at the midseason rankings. But his stock plummeted on most experts final rankings lists.
But should all go according to plan, Toronto will have landed a prolific offensive blueliner.
Regular defenders Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Nikita Zaitsev have shown offensive flair, but Toronto has yet to acquire a serious offensive threat on the back end. Liljegren’s smooth defensive zone exits and command of the power play have drawn comparisons to the LA Kings’ Drew Doughty.
Scouting Report (Elite Prospects):
- “The way he combines his speed with strong puck handling skills makes him a quite spectacular player to watch.”
- “Some room for improvement when it comes to his defensive game.”
- “Could become a high scoring defenceman thanks to his hockey sense, quick release and strong passing game.”
Signed under contract with the SHL for one more season, it’s unlikely Liljegren makes Toronto’s roster next season. Still, the Leafs needed to bulk up its defensive prospect pool, and the club certainly addressed this need in Chicago. Consider this another step in the right direction for the blue and white.