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Photo Credit: David Banks / USA TODAY Sports

GIFs: 17th overall pick Timothy Liljegren

For the fifth edition of “look at all these fun GIFs of Maple Leafs,” I’m going to cover a player who hasn’t actually played a game for the team yet and has only been in the organization for about a month. No, not Patrick Marleau, try somebody younger. Much younger. He went 17th overall in the NHL entry draft and is a smooth skating, puck moving defender. No, not Jake Gardiner. Much younger still. It’s our newly adopted son *extremely Mark Hunter voice* Timoth Linigren!

P.S. I know you all read the headline and already knew who this was about, but it was a fun intro, okay?

P.S.S. if you’d like to view my previous four GIF storms featuring Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Jake Gardiner, visit my author page here.

Evading the forechecker

I’m pretty sure the forechecker is out 4-6 with a separated shoulder after Liljegren effortlessly jumps around the hit and skates away with the puck. I’ve watched this clip an embarrassing amount of times, but apparently I’m not the only one because it’s one of my most shared tweets (which isn’t a very high bar.)

Sidestep + assaulting the water bottle

Another illustration of Liljegren’s skating ability. He pinches in from the point and he’s skating toward the middle of the slot until a forward pressures him from the outside. Liljegren then cuts to the outside where the forward had just come from and rifles a beautiful shot over the goaltender’s shoulder and off the water bottle.

One-timer goal

Apparently Liljegren can take one-timers as well. This one hits the back crossbar so hard that it ricochets downward with such force that it bounces off the ice like a tennis ball. The goal also ties the game with 20 seconds remaining in the third period against… Latvia? Regardless, the Latvian goaltender is lucky this shot just missed his face.

Scoring from a ridiculous angle

I included this GIF in my William Nylander piece because Nylander scored a very similar goal against the Flyers this year. Unfortunately the two angles apparently come from people on opposite sides of the rink filming it with their Blackberry Curves, but you get the gist of it.

Staying calm under pressure

I really enjoy how calmly Liljegren goes about his business on this play while being pressured behind his own net. He just lets the puck go through his feet, catches it on the other side on his forehand and passes up to the open winger on the hashmarks.

Fancy footwork in the defensive zone

This kid is such a smooth and efficient skater. Here he backs up behind the net while crossing over, giving the forechecker the perception that he’s about to go around the back of the net and out the other side. Liljegren waits for the forechecker to commit to going around the far post and then stops up, making a quick pass to his winger along the boards.

His hips don’t lie

Please do not hold that caption against me. I can never tell if a hip check is clean or if it’s clipping, but this seems pretty well executed and it stops the puck carrier from getting a shot off in tight.

Jumping into the play + getting a SOG

It looks like the neutral zone is pretty clogged up and the puck carrier doesn’t seem to have any options until Liljegren enters the screen flying up the wall at the redline. He receives the pass mid-stride on the backhand and easily enters the zone. He then steps into the middle of the faceoff circle and gets a contested shot off, but the goaltender makes the save.

The following clips took place in the U18 tournament and were taken from this video.

Because you’re mine, Tim walks the line

This is another example of Liljegren’s skating and puck handling abilities. He makes it look effortless, pivoting backward while accelerating and then taking a shot through traffic.

Drawing a penalty

Liljegren runs out of space while skating the puck into the corner in the offensive zone so, instead of forcing a pass or dumping it behind the net, he stops and heads back the other way. He skates all the way back out to the blueline where he cuts across it and evades an opposing forward before turning back down low with speed. As soon as he heads around the back of the net a defender hooks him and takes a penalty.

Lateral skating + shot off the post

I’m already obsessed with watching this kid skate, specifically with the puck on his stick. I just can’t help but imagine a Jake Gardiner-Timothy Liljegren pairing. Drool.

Zone entry + shot assist

Liljegren again uses his speed effectively. Again he takes off through the neutral zone when he sees his teammate looking for options and again he receives the pass at the redline mid-stride. This time he enters the zone on the opposite side of the ice and the defender is forced to retreat in order not to get beat. Liljegren takes the space afforded to him and then drops it to the trailer who has space to shoot and uses it to take a shot on net.

Coast to coast

Liljegren just decides he’s going to take it from behind his net and be the zone exit, entry and shot on goal. The shot is a weak one from the side boards, but now his team has the puck in the offensive zone. This is one of the most important jobs for a defenceman: getting the puck from the defensive zone into offensive zone.

Gap control

Liljegren shows off some good gap control here by being aggressive in the neutral zone. He should be pretty good at this considering his skating is very good and he sees the ice well so he should be able to start closing the gap early on opposing players.

End to end once again

Just casually sidesteps two opposing players in the neutral zone, drawing two defenders to him in the offensive zone and then feeding his teammate in the slot for a dangerous chance. This kid is already one of my favourites.

This is a recording

This kid is a zone exit and entry machine.

This time it’s different because it’s in OT

He just leaves that forechecker in the dust. When Liljegren gets the puck in the defensive zone it’s pretty much automatic that his team is going to have possession of the puck in the offensive zone within ten seconds.

Defence + zone exit + entry

Liljegren keeps his man contained along the boards in the defensive zone until the opposing player is forced to force a pass. It doesn’t work and Liljegren picks it up and takes off out of the defensive zone, feeding a forward at the blueline for the entry.

Entry + pass for a two on one

Ho-hum another pinch and entry leading to a scoring chance for his team. Here he pounces on a loose puck in the neutral zone, steps around the opposing forward and enters the zone. As soon as he enters the zone he feeds it to a teammate in the middle who is now on a two on one from the top of the circle in.

Exit, entry, SOG

Again Liljegren just does all the heavy lifting, providing the zone exit, entry and the shot on goal.

PP passing

Lol PP. Or if you include “passing” into the acronym you could make it the dreaded “PPP.” Anyway, that second pass is wonderful as he draws two defenders to him and then feeds a cross-ice pass to his teammate, but his shot is blocked.

I still can’t believe this kid fell into the Leafs’ lap and I cannot wait to watch him in a Leafs uniform.

 

 

  • The Russian Rocket

    Man, Liljegren looks like such a calm, smooth skater. I still don’t understand how he dropped so far in the draft. The only GIF that freaked me out was “Jumping into play + getting a shot on goal” cutting into the middle like that… you just have to hope you don’t run into Kronwall or Phaneuf or anyone who wants to play Scott Stevens.