After a few years of being prematurely labelled a bust simply because he didn’t reach the NHL quickly, @Timothy Liljegren took a big step forward in 2021-22 where he got consistent playing time and saw stints on the second pairing. Seeing minutes alongside countrymen @Rasmus Sandin and veteran @Mark Giordano, Liljegren had a decent year from an offensive standpoint, saw some action in the playoffs, and showcased his potential throughout the season.
So how do things play out after his breakout season? Will he continue to build off his first full year and propel himself further up the pecking order, or will he see some regression in his game? That is what we will attempt to answer using Franchise Hockey Manager 8.
This is the 12th entry in my ongoing series where I use a video game to see how the rest of a Leafs’ player career will play out. If this is your first time reading one of these posts, the previous entries are linked below in order:
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These are the rules that I will be following throughout this simulation:
  • I’m not allowed to control the Leafs at all during the sim, so I randomly selected a team before starting
  • Auto-Sign is on so I don’t affect Free-Agency
  • Injuries are left on
  • Once Liljegren retires, the sim ends
  • Every five years, I’ll post his stats along with any awards he might have won
  • I’ll update you guys on anything noteworthy regarding the Leafs and who won the Stanley Cup
Here is a look at the Leafs’ lineup to begin the 2021-22 campaign. I am starting to sound like a broken record here, but @Auston Matthews was injured at the start of the season:
And here is where things stand with Liljegren heading into Year 1, where he too has an injury at the beginning of the sim:

The simulation

Year 1 (2021-22)

The Leafs in this universe decided to leave Liljegren in the AHL for most of the season and he barely played with the top club as a result. He only managed to play in eight NHL games and registered two assists in that span. He recorded five goals, 15 assists, and 20 points in 48 games with the Marlies.
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Toronto probably could have used his services because the team went through a tight race for a wild card and only finished two points out of the playoffs with the Red Wings edging them out. The only moves of note involved the Leafs’ trading TJ Brodie and Ty Voit to the Capitals for @Johan Larsson and a separate trade with the Sabres that saw them acquire @Casey Fitzgerald.
The Hurricanes would emerge as Cup champions by sweeping the Golden Knights.

Year 2 (2022-23)

Liljegren wasn’t able to secure a contract with the Leafs because of their limited cap space, resulting in him having to play overseas. He subsequently joined EV Zug of the National League on a two-year deal.
Zug had a solid regular season where they finished with the best record in the league by a considerable margin. Liljegren had a lot to do with their success as his 33 points in 52 games played saw him finish third on the team in scoring and 15 points ahead of the second highest scoring defenceman on the roster. It was good enough to earn him Second Team All-Star honours.
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The regular season results did not translate into postseason success as they were bounced out of the first round by HC Lugano in seven games. ZSC Lions would go on to win the championship. Over in the NHL, the Blues beat the Penguins in five games to clinch the Cup.

Year 3 (2023-24)

Towards the end of the offseason, the Leafs were able to secure a transfer that would allow Liljegren to return to the Leafs. It resulted in him inking a two-year contract with a $775 AAV. And it couldn’t have come at a better time since Toronto missed the playoffs by a wide margin the previous season, resulting in them drafting @Connor Bedard first overall.
The Leafs had a respectable regular season that was enough to earn them a playoff birth for the first time in this simulation, and Liljegren played a big part in their turnaround. His 50 points in 74 games played was good enough for sixth on the team in scoring and second among Leafs’ defencemen behind only @Morgan Rielly. Toronto did not last long in the playoffs as they went down in six games at the hands of the Sabres in the first round. Liljegren tallied five points in that series which matched his output from the year prior in Switzerland.
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The Stars would sweep the Panthers to win the Cup, but the real story is that the Leafs managed to re-sign both Matthews and @William Nylander to multi-year extensions in the offseason.

Year 4 (2024-25)

On the opening day of free agent frenzy, the Leafs made the baffling decision to trade Liljegren to the Stars in exchange for what remains of @Ryan Suter and @Anton Khudobin. Dallas also acquired @Colton Parayko from the Flames and @Miles Wood from the Devils, so their title defence is off to a great start.
The Stars ended up finishing three points back of the Avalanche for both the Central Division title and the top record in the NHL, so it’s safe to say things went well in the Lone Star State. Liljegren did not replicate the success of the year prior but still put up a respectable 33 points in 79 games. Dallas would be embarrassed by the Blues (who finished 16 points behind them) who swept them with little trouble, while Liljegren only managed a goal in the series.
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Calgary would edge out the Penguins in seven games to bring the Cup back to Canada.

Year 5 (2025-26)

Liljegren’s strong play was enough to earn him a one-year extension with the Stars that also saw his pay raise a bit. Beyond that, the only notable addition Dallas made was signing @Tyler Benson.
They probably should have added more because they regressed significantly and fell out of the playoff picture, although they ended up seven points behind the Canucks and Golden Knights for a Wild Card spot. One of the few positives of this mediocre season was the continued strong play of Liljegren, who improved to 42 points in 80 games played (just one behind @John Klingberg to lead all of the Stars defencemen). The Flames had a chance to repeat as Cup champions but lost to the Sabres in six games.
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After five years of the sim, here is how things stand with Liljegren:

Year 6 (2026-27)

The Stars once again had a quiet offseason where the only moves of any significance were letting Parayko walk and signing @Zack MacEwen. Dallas wanted to keep Liljegren around so they signed him to a two-year deal with a $1.13 million AAV.
The Stars rebounded this season and were forced into a Wild Card spot due to the Central Division being so competitive. Liljegren missed the majority of the campaign due to a fractured hip injury he suffered during the preseason and only appeared in four regular season games. He did participate in the postseason where he tallied three points in 13 games played, as his team fell in six games to the Flames.
Like the previous year, the Sabres had a chance to repeat as Cup champions but fell short. It was the Jets who denied them the dynasty as they easily dispatched Buffalo in five games.
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Year 7 (2027-28)

Dallas’ only two significant signings were @Hampus Lindholm and @Mike Reilly, whom both got immediately sent down to the Texas Stars.
The Stars would go on to have a solid regular season where they finished four points back of the Wild for the Central Division title and six points behind the Kings for the best record in the West. Liljegren was in a contract year and posted similar numbers to the season prior, finishing with 36 points in 82 games played.
Dallas would end up facing the Wild in the second round who proceeded to sweep them with ease. Liljegren failed to move the needle as he once again finished with three points in the postseason. Minnesota would go on to lose in seven games to the Senators in the Finals.
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Year 8 (2028-29)

After failing to get an extension done with the Stars, Liljegren took his talents to Long Island and signed with the Islanders. Joining him was @Tyler Brennan, who was acquired in a trade with the Penguins that saw Ryan Donato as the primary return.
The Islanders had a good year that saw them finish third in their division and a comfortable gap over the Wild Card spots. Liljegren missed some time with various injuries and was able to beat his previous season’s output by scoring 41 points in 73 games. New York made it to the second round where they fell behind 3-0 to the Hurricanes and made things interesting before falling in six games. Liljegren saw a boost offensively compared to years past as his five points in nine games tied for his personal best in the postseason.
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Carolina would go on to beat the Flames in seven games to clinch the Stanley Cup.

Year 9 (2029-30)

New York decided to keep their team largely intact, with @Vince Dunn being the sole addition of the offseason.
That move seemed to blow up in their face because the team fell out of the playoff picture and finished four points out of a Wild Card spot. Liljegren was one of the bright spots as his 45 points had him finish second among Islanders defenders in scoring, good enough to earn him a four-year extension with a $1.8 million cap hit.
In the playoffs, the Canadiens edged out the Golden Knights in seven games to take home the Cup.

Year 10 (2030-31)

This time around, the Islanders learned from their mistakes and were more active in the free agent market during the summer of 2030. They added guys like @Filip Chytil, @Tristan Borz, and @Jan Chovan, but their biggest signing was goalie Sergei Dolgov, a young goalie who was dominant in the KHL.
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It paid immediate dividends as New York would go on to have an impressive regular season that saw them tied with the Red Wings for the best record in the Eastern Conference with 105 points. Liljegren posted similar numbers to years past with 39 points to top all Islanders defenders.
New York’s postseason birth was shortlived as they were upset by the Senators in five games, while Liljegren could only muster up two points in the series. The Habs and Golden Knights rematched in the Finals with Montreal once again emerging victorious in seven games.
We are now a full decade into the sim and here is where things stand for Liljegren:

Year 11 (2031-32)

It was another offseason where the Islanders only made one move of any note, with it being a trade that saw them acquire @Jean-Luc Foudy from the Avalanche.
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It was a season of change for the Islanders who made two major moves during the season to bring in younger talent. One saw them ship off @Anthony Beauvillier and @Dmitri Voronkov to the Senators for Cole Reschny, and another trading Chytil to Chicago for @Matthew Samoskevich. This was also a dominant regular season as the Islanders finished comfortably atop the Metropolitan Division. Liljegren once again was solid, with 45 points in 75 games played to the tune of the second-highest scoring defender on the team.
However, the same cannot be said in the playoffs where the Islanders were upset once again by the Wild Card team, this time being the Canadiens who were on a mission to three-peat. Liljegren once again failed to make a major impact on the scoresheet with two assists to his name.
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Montreal would reach the Finals for a third straight year but would fall in six games to the Flames.

Year 12 (2032-33)

New York was quite busy during the offseason as they made a few trades and signings. The most notable adds were Anton Frondell, trading Samoskevich to the Blues for Edvin Nääs, and acquiring @Oskar Steen from the Habs in exchange for Mathieu Pelletier.
The Islanders remained a competitive team as they ended up in third place in the Metro, but Liljegren barely made an impact on their success. This season saw him limited to 19 games not because of injuries, but due to him spending the majority of the year in the AHL where he scored 23 points. He would make an appearance during the playoffs where he scored his first playoff goal in five years. It wouldn’t be enough since New Work lost to the Capitals in the first round.
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Washington would go on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals where they would lose in five games to the Kraken.

Year 13 (2033-34)

The Islanders continued their pattern of going radio silent in the offseason every other year. Their only transaction was a trade with the Golden Knights to acquire Alexander Perevalov. But on the eve of the regular season, New York decided to ship off Liljegren to the Bruins for a fourth-round pick.
He would only play three games in the NHL where he could only muster up a single goal. Liljegren was primarily with the Providence Bruins with 39 points in 68 games played, good enough for second on the team in scoring. That was one of the few bright spots as both the NHL and AHL teams did not make the playoffs, with Boston finishing dead last.
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The Coyotes would edge out the Capitals in seven games to win the Cup. Afterwards, Liljegren saw the writing on the wall and decided to retire from hockey. Let’s take a look at the final results as he begins his post-hockey days:

Takeaways

While he certainly was productive throughout the regular season and posted solid numbers throughout, this sim did not go well for Liljegren at all in terms of playoff success. He only made it out of the first round three times and his teams were never good enough to go deeper into spring. It certainly did not help matters that Liljegren’s offensive output became virtually nonexistent, with five being the most he scored in a single run three times. He clearly had a lot more to give while other teams found much more success. So although he did his part to get his team into the playoffs, Liljegren fell short when asked to take them further.
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Much like the Sandin simulation, Liljegren did have to spend some time overseas before getting a contract with the Leafs. Thankfully he didn’t have to stay there as long but I still found it strange that he would even have to play there in the first place. As per usual, the results of this sim should not be taken as proof of how Liljegren’s career will actually play out because at the end of the day it’s a video game. My hope is that you enjoyed this journey following a player who constantly fell short and had the career equivalent of the Capitals before they won it all in 2018.
At the very least, let’s hope Liljegren can find a ton of success offensively speaking because that could do wonders for the Leafs’ blueline in the immediate and long-term future.
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