4
Photo Credit: David Banks / USA TODAY Sports

Timothy Liljegren to attend Leafs camp, future in SHL uncertain

How can you tell it’s August? Well, I mean, you could look at a calendar. But, if for some reason one wasn’t available, you could see a Toronto Maple Leafs website making a post about the team’s 2017 first round pick being invited to Training Camp.

If there was ever any doubt that Timothy Liljegren, the No. 17 pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft, was going to be at main camp come September, it’s been washed away.

The interesting piece of news here is that Liljegren will miss the beginning of the Swedish Hockey League season. That said, we aren’t sure yet if he’s even going to play for Rögle BK, the club he’s been with since his U16 days.

“Timothy is Toronto’s player and they are the ones who will make the decision. We have to wait and see, the only thing we know at the moment is that Timothy will be joining Toronto’s main training camp in September, and will not be in Sweden when the SHL launches,” Rögle’s Manager said. “We are in a good dialogue with Toronto’s management. Timothy will join both the rookie camp and then their main camp and only then they will make a decision and we are very respectful.”

Liljegren was selected by the Niagara Ice Dogs in the OHL Import Draft, and surely won’t be playing Major Junior this season. The options come down to professional hockey in Sweden or North America.

Cracking the Leafs blueline — which features Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and Connor Carrick as sure things, and Martin Marincin and Alexey Marchenko as the very likely depth options — would be a monumental task for the 18-year-old. The Marlies blueline is also fairly deep, with Travis Dermott, Calle Rosen, Rinat Valiev, Andreas Borgman, Vincent LoVerde, and Justin Holl rounding out options on defence.

There are arguments for Liljegren playing in the AHL and in Sweden. Obviously it would be nice to have a player grow up in your backyard, have him learn the city and organization, and have the coaches available. But the SHL is a very good league, and he’ll certainly get a prime opportunity to be a key player on Rögle this season.

Regardless, seeing Liljegren play at main camp will be fun.