Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Timothy Liljegren.
Before the season started, there was some thought that Swedish defenceman Timothy Liljegren could challenge for the first overall spot in the 2017 NHL Draft. Things have not quite gone as planned. After a strong Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he put up four points in five games, Liljegren was diagnosed with mononucleosis before his domestic campaign could begin. When he did return, he was eased back into the Rogle lineup, even spending some time with their J20 team. He also spent some time on loan to Timra in the Allvenskan. Overall he has bounced around quite a bit this year. That said, the skills he possesses still make him one of the best defenceman in this draft class. In other years he might have fallen farther, but with this relatively weak draft class, we still have Liljegren ranked ninth overall due to the upside that he possesses.
Timothy Liljegren Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #9
Defense — shoots Right
Born Apr 30 1999 — Kristianstad, Sweden
Height 6’0″ — Weight 192 lbs [180 cm / 87 kg]
Liljegren is an elite skater. He moves well both forwards and backwards, with excellent speed and acceleration. He also has very good edge work and pivots. As such he can cover a ton of ice. Liljegren can make offensive plays rushing the puck, or pinching in at the blue line; but still has the speed to get back defensively. He also has good balance and lower body strength. This helps him to win his battles along the boards and in front of the net. When carrying the puck, he is tough to knock off of it.
Liljegren has the poise and smarts to quarterback a power play. He has excellent vision, and makes good passes to set things up at the line. Liljegren finds the open man and makes tape-to-tape passes through tight areas. He can also make the long breakout pass to hit a teammate streaking through the neutral zone. Liljegren is a very good stick handler. He can move the puck out of danger, and avoid fore checkers when starting the transition game. He also has the ability to make plays leading the rush or to join the rush as a trailer. Liljegren’s has high hockey IQ, as he makes almost always makes the smart play with the puck.
Liljegren also has an excellent shot. His slapshot has great power, and the has the ability to get it through traffic and on net. He can really hammer a laser when he is given a good pass for a one-timer. He also can vary things up with a quick release and accurate wrist shot. Liljegren usually keeps his shot low, looking for teammates to get deflections and rebounds.
Liljegren’s defensive game is very advanced for an 18-year-old, however there is still plenty of room to improve. He uses his strong skating ability and quick feet to contain his opponent and maintains good gap control. His stick is quick and he can create turnovers through poking a puck away from an opponent or through intercepting a pass. Liljegren could stand to be a bit more physical though. He’s He already has decent muscle mass, but could add a little more.
Projection and Comparison
After a rough season, Liljegren will need some development time. It is unlikely that he will be ready to step into the NHL immediately. There is real upside here though, and Liljegren could become a top pair NHL defenceman if he continues to improve his game. In terms of a stylistic (but not talent based) comparison, he resembles Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Come back tomorrow to check out the next prospect on our 2017 NHL Draft board.
Main Photo courtesy Rogle BK, SHL