Throughout this self-isolation, no sports time — I thought it would be a good idea to look at the Toronto Maple Leafs defense core.
I wrote about Cody Ceci and what the Toronto Maple Leafs should or shouldn’t do, depending on what the future holds (and whether or not they sign Tyson Barrie).
However, another defenseman — who may have an interesting future in the NHL is Timothy Liljegren.
The 20-year-old right-shot defenseman bounced around from the AHL to the NHL this season, before he was sent back down to the Toronto Marlies before all sports were suspended.
With the Marlies, Liljegren was as good as ever — playing top-minutes and even quarterbacking the first power play unit (which he was very good at).
He lead all Marlies defenseman in points (30P in 40GP) and was tied for third on the team for power play points this season.
The unfortunate part to all of this is the injury problems he’s had since before he was drafted. The Toronto Maple Leafs were very lucky to get him at 17th overall, after he was touted to be one of the top defenseman in the 2017 draft.
In his draft season, he had mono (or mononucleosis), and he struggled to get back to his normal-self that, which was the biggest reason for the drop to 17th.
Liljegren almost secured a full-time NHL gig last season, but it was unfortunately delayed due to a high-ankle sprain he suffered in early December of 2018.
Now though, he’s healthier than ever and is well-deserved of his shot in the NHL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were incredibly lucky to get him that late, which is one of the many reasons to keep him.
As the Toronto Maple Leafs get older, it feels like the two youngest and possibly best defenseman are taking the longest to develop, even though they’re only 19 and 20.
I know Kyle Dubas is smart and will not trade either of them. You have Rasmus Sandin, who’s playing in the NHL at 19-years-old.
You also have Liljegren — a right-shot defenseman, which the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have much of after this season.
It might just be Justin Holl, who can play comfortably on the right side. The Toronto Maple Leafs will need more right-shot defensemen, which is why you keep Liljegren.
And also the fact that he has a lot of potential to be a very good player in the future.
It’s likely that one day we see Liljegren and Sandin as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top pairing. They will have the answers to all of our problems, and hopefully — be very, very good.
I don’t believe there is any point in trading a 20-year-old, who could have the potential to be a very good player — for somebody who is good right now and is probably 25 or 26. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
The Toronto Maple Leafs need to be as young as possible to have success in the regular season and playoffs, so if you trade a young defenseman, you put that in jeopardy.
Like I’ve said in most of my articles though, “I’m not an NHL GM, nor will I ever be.” But I think that this decision, of trading Liljegren, has a fairly easy answer which is no.
It should always be no, and if one day it isn’t, I’ll be surprised — very surprised.