TORONTO — Timothy Liljegren is finally feeling at home in Toronto, and it has nothing to do with his play on the ice.
The Toronto Marlies rookie was finally able to move out of a Toronto hotel and into his own condo.
"It’s great. I got my first place now a couple weeks ago so it’s fun," said the native of Kristianstad, Sweden, who is living on his own. "Obviously it’s a bit different living in Toronto from back home, but I mean I’m used to it, I can cook for myself and stuff like that so it’s not hard."
On the ice the six-foot, 190-pound defenceman is adjusting as well. He’s appeared in 12 of the Marlies’ first 20 games, scoring a goal and adding five assists after being forced to watch six games while nursing an upper body injury this month.
Liljegren says with the faster game and reduced space compared to pro hockey in Sweden, he’s changed his approach with his decision-making.
"I played with men back home as well so it’s pretty fast there too, but obviously it goes a lot faster here," he said. "I try to make plays easier and maybe make the first play that comes to mind instead of over thinking."
Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe has partnered Liljegren with second-year Marlie Travis Dermott for much of the season, and the two have formed chemistry on the ice.
"Two guys that, are a right and a left shot, that move around the ice very well both without and with the puck," Keefe said. "(Dermott) is a guy that plays very well defensively, knows our structure, systems and he talks a lot, he’s vocal despite it being only his second year."
Liljegren, 18, is currently the youngest blueliner in the American Hockey League. The Leafs 2017 first-round `draft selection has been working on picking his spots better on the offensive side of the puck.
"I can make points by doing the simple plays as well so that’s been a huge part that I’ve been developing," Liljegren said. "Really just keep it simple. Don’t over think it. Not trying to do too much – that’s one of the things I’ve been improving the most. Also, to battle, competing hard both in games and practice. I think that’s been a huge part of my development."
Off the ice, Liljegren prefers to get away from sports and keep in touch with friends back home.
"I usually play video games. The new Call of Duty is out now so I spend a lot of my time there," said Liljegren. "I haven’t been playing with a lot of friends (here). Usually play (online) with friends back home, keep up with them so it’s fun."
The biggest perk of moving out of the hotel has been the ability to cook for himself. Liljegren, who has lived on his own since he was 14, plans to have some of his countrymen from the Marlies join him for dinner at his place this week.
"On Thursday I’m inviting some of the Swedes over to my place and we’re going to make some tacos," he said. "I have some (Swedish dishes), but usually, pasta, potatoes and chicken, stuff like that."
Next month will bring another new opportunity for Liljegren as he is expected to be part of Sweden’s world junior team. He was forced to miss last year’s event due to a bought of mononucleosis.
"It’s something every kid dreams about in Sweden, it’s a big deal in Sweden and we’re one of the top teams every year so it’s always fun to come together and play with your national team," said Liljegren. "I don’t think we’ve lost a game in the preliminary round since 10 years back so obviously that’s a huge part that you try to work on as a group — to compete all the way, not be satisfied with semifinals."