With just one assist in minutes in 11 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 21-year-old’s game was, for the most part, forgettable.
After failing to get the big club out of training camp last month, the Toronto Marlies defenseman is looking to rediscover the form that allowed him to accumulate 30 points in 40 AHL games last year, to get a nod from the stars and to have fans and experts claimed. for his call in the first place. And, maybe, another NHL chance.
“Yeah, I think that’s just experience,” the 2017 first-round pick replied on Saturday when asked why he’s struggling to find his place in the NHL.
“I feel like I’ve been (with the Marlies) for a long time and I know AHL now, that makes things a little easier. But yeah, I think I was a little nervous last year when I got there and I think I played solid, but not as well as I have been here. So (I’m trying) just to keep playing well here and hopefully I can translate my game from here. ”
The results at the AHL level have been promising so far.
Liljegren has five assists and 14 shots in five games for the Marlies and is tied for the team lead in points.
“We are really happy with his performance so far. He’s created a lot for us in his first two games and has also been strong and consistent offensively, ”said coach Greg Moore last week.
Liljegren’s presence among the Marlies’ first point leaders bodes well for the six-foot, 198-pound Swede.
Heavily billed as a talented, right-handed D-man coming out of the 2017 draft, Liljegren seemed to bring it all together in the AHL last season. He finally racked up the points, after poor results as a subplayer in the previous two seasons, and completed his game by showing that he could be trusted in all areas of the ice.
But the offense dried up in the NHL, and his game fell apart overall.
For Evolving-Hockey, Liljegren had the worst of the team, 43.35 Corsi for the percentage and 35.58 goals expected for the percentage at 5 against 5, the fewest individual shots on goal every 60 minutes (1.06 iSF), the third lowest point for 60 (0.53) and the sixth best price for 60 (3.18) in sheltered, but skinny minutes (10:18 ATOI) with the Leafs.
Back with the Marlies, he shows renewed confidence.
Liljegren ridiculed opponents with dekes to open up passing and shooting lanes, as evidenced by his toe against the Moose on Friday and his gaze at Joey Anderson in the slot on Tuesday, also against Manitoba.
“(I want to) keep growing my attack. I think, especially last year when I played for the Leafs, I don’t think I created a lot of offense, so that’s what I focus on and what I focus on with the Marlies ” said Liljegren, who has been orienting her off-season around building strength and conditioning.
Liljegren also managed to get out of the Marlies’ area and get into the game to create opportunities out of the rush.
The split-second cost-benefit analysis involved in taking those chances is another aspect of his game that he personally insisted on and worked on with Moore.
“I just try to guide (the players) to answers sometimes, if what they’re giving just needs a little boost,” Moore said of their discussions of different offensive and defensive scenarios.
But, at the end of the day, in this process, Timothy is a really smart player and he comes to his own conclusions and works through it, which is a big sign for an elite athlete for his future and what he needs. can become once he continues to build this. process and become strong with it. ”
Because sometimes in the narrow field of view under the microscope in Toronto, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Liljegren is still relatively early in her development. He won’t be 22 until the end of April and still has a year after that for his entry contract.
“Anytime there’s a guy like that, who’s had time (in the NHL), back in the American League, the message for any player in that situation is to keep building consistency in what ‘he does, especially defensively. and in different situations, then to continue to push the limits and develop offensively, not to lose the puck touches and to continue to gain another level in this area so that the confidence continues to rise more and more ”, Moore said of what the Leafs hope to see Liljegren in the AHL.
“So when he comes back he has an opportunity, hopefully, (and) he got specific reps to put himself in a better position.
As Toronto’s deepening build moves toward the blue line during current off-season roadblocks, Liljegren continues to trust the process with the intention of making her next appearance on The Show.
“(They want me to continue) to continue to grow as a player. I think I had a very good development last year. I’m just trying to continue on the same path, ”he said
“Obviously the Leafs have a good D-body right now and it’s a weird season, so I’m just trying to focus on being good here and hoping for a chance.