A busy offseason is nigh for the Toronto Maple Leafs, General manager Kyle Dubas has some tough decisions to make regarding Timothy Liljegren and his future with the team. Following yet another disappointing playoff exit, the Leafs will look to bolster their forward corps this offseason. They will look to do this and still maintain the defensive prowess that they displayed this past season. All of the team’s defensive core (with the exception of Zach Bogosian and Ben Hutton) are under contract for next season. With this in mind, it seems that top prospect Timothy Liljegren will yet again likely not play a key role in the team’s defense come opening night.
Is Timothy Liljegren Ready for the NHL?
Initially drafted 17th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Maple Leafs, Timothy Liljegren has spent much of the past four seasons playing a prominent role on the team’s AHL affiliate team, the Toronto Marlies. During his tenure with the Marlies, the young Swedish defenceman has scored 73 points in 148 regular-season games. His performance with the Marlies has been solid. However, Liljegren has yet to prove himself in the NHL with just one point in 13 games with the Leafs. Beyond the raw stats, he hasn’t looked all too comfortable on the Leafs. Liljegren was drafted to fill the need for an offensive defenceman. The lack of scoring production is a concern for the organization. Despite this, the 22-year-old still has ample time to develop.
Who Would Timothy Liljegren Replace?
If Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe believes in giving Liljegren a shot on the team’s starting defense, who would Liljegren replace? Currently, the team has five full-time NHL defensemen signed through next season: Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Jake Muzzin, Travis Dermott, and Justin Holl. In addition, youngster Rasmus Sandin will likely have a full-time role next season. This is without pending UFAs Zach Bogosian and Ben Hutton, both of whom may potentially test the free-agent market. It’s possible that the Seattle Kraken select one of Travis Dermott or Justin Holl in the upcoming expansion draft. If neither of the aforementioned UFAs re-signs, the team will likely someone up in the free-agent market to provide stability.
Should the Maple Leafs Leafs Trade Timothy Liljegren?
With the Leafs’ blueline under contract for several years, it seems like Liljegren would serve better playing on another team in a rebuild like the Los Angeles Kings or Columbus Blue Jackets. This would give the young blueliner an opportunity to develop at the NHL level. Liljegren certainly holds some trade value with other teams. The former first-round pick has proven to be a capable and skilled offensive defenceman in the AHL. He certainly has some upside to become a top-four defenceman in the future. The Leafs could also look to add Liljegren as an asset in acquiring a rumored trade target such as Tyler Bertuzzi or Darcy Kuemper.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will need to assess Timothy Lilegren’s future with the team. They need to make the decision as to whether or not he is a part of their plans moving forward. If he is, they should give him a real shot at proving himself in the NHL. If he is not, they should look into trading him as soon as possible while his value is still high.
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