Prospect of Interest: The 411 on Timothy Liljegren

The Toronto Maple Leafs draft Swedish defencemen Timothy Liljegren with the 17th pick of the 2017.

With his dark flowing hair, strong skating ability, right-handed shot and overall offensive upside, Timothy Liljegren is drawing some comparisons to countryman Erik Karlsson.

That’s just about as generous a compliment you can give to a young Swedish defenceman, but if you check out highlights of Liljegren there are some obvious similarities. Liljegren has said he models his game after the Sens captain and considers him one of the athletes he admires most. Karlsson was drafted 15th overall in 2008 and Liljegren could find himself being chosen in around the same spot.

His zone entries and ability to navigate the blue line are a strong suit and good luck trying to beat him with speed on the outside. He also has a rocket of a shot.

Here’s some more on Liljegren.

Age on June 23: 18
Current Team: Rogle BK
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 191 pounds
From: Angelholm, Sweden
NHL Central Scouting Rank (Europe): 6

Jeff Marek’s Take: “The premium with Liljegren is on skating, one of the smoothest in the draft.”

His draft stock has fallen partly due to illness

Liljegren posted identical stat lines (one goal, four assists, four penalty minutes in 19 games) in back-to-back seasons with Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League, yet his 2016-17 campaign was considered somewhat disappointing. Unfortunately, Liljegren was stricken with mononucleosis and missed the first two months of the season. He told reporters at the Scouting Combine he felt he returned from his illness too quickly

Back in November, Liljegren sat at No. 2 in Jeff Marek’s 2017 NHL Draft Prospect Rankings with scouts viewing him as the definitive second overall behind only Nolan Patrick at the time. He has since fallen outside the top 10 in most mock drafts you’ll see and, although he’s a lock for the first round, it seems like there’s a chance he won’t be selected until the second half of the opening round.

“It wasn’t quite the season I had hoped for, but I think it will turn out useful for me in the long run,” Liljegren told David Carlsson of The Hockey Writers. “Mentally, I’ve just had to push through. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this kind of setback before.”

Feels good to be back on ice! #stepbystep

810 Likes, 15 Comments – Timothy Winston Liljegren (@timothyliljegren) on Instagram: “Feels good to be back on ice! #stepbystep”

He added: “We all have setbacks, but this has been the biggest one in my career. I still think I handled it well and kept calm in spite of what happened…I know I was high on the draft rankings before the season started, but I had to reconsider my expectations after a serious illness like that.”

He had an impressive Scouting Combine showing

Liljegren was among the 104 participants at the 2017 Scouting Combine and all indications are that he performed well. He had the eighth-best score in the standing long jump drill with a score of 111.5 inches. He was also the only projected first rounder to finish in the top 25 for mean power output in the Wingate Cycle Ergometer test which would indicate that, just like Karlsson, his legs stay fresh late in games.

While there, he met with 28 of the 31 NHL teams. The only teams that didn’t interview him were the Canucks, Penguins and Flyers.

He’ll play in Sweden in 2017-18 regardless of which team drafts him

Liljegren’s father is from the United States and that side of his family resides in New Jersey so the player has an American passport. This could potentially make transitioning to North America easier although we shouldn’t expect to see Liljegren in the NHL for at least a couple years. He is under contract with Rogle for next season and staying in Sweden to develop could be the best move for him at this point in his career.

“I think I need to be more mature in my game,” Liljegren told Carlsson. “I play with a lot of high risk.”

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