Mobile defender with strong puck-moving ability. Has the potential to grow into a reliable top-four defenceman in the NHL.
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May 2022 – Liljegren may have entered the season as a depth option for Toronto but when all was said and done, his 61 regular season games were more than all but three other Leafs defencemen. Part of that was due to injuries elsewhere on the depth chart but Liljegren took full advantage of the opportunity, putting up solid underlying results and chipping in with more offense as the season progressed. He finished the campaign with five goals and 18 assists while averaging just under 17 minutes of ice time per game. The young Swede really seemed to come into his own down the stretch, forming a strong pairing with Mark Giordano after the veteran defender was acquired at the trade deadline. Liljegren even got into a couple of playoff games but was relegated to the press box in favor of more experienced options as the Leafs’ blueline returned to health. All in all, it was a great season for the Leafs’ 2017 first-rounder as he finally broke through and established himself as a capable NHLer. He is a pending restricted free agent heading into the offseason and given Toronto’s salary cap limitations, a short-term bridge contract seems likely. It has been a bit of a long road for Liljegren but it is pretty safe to pencil him in as a regular on the Leafs’ blue line heading into the 2022-23 season. Nick Richard
December 2021 – After showing steady growth over the last few seasons with the Marlies, Liljegren was expected to serve as the Leafs’ seventh defenceman in 2021-22. Instead, his strong play through camp and the early part of the season, combined with some poor performances ahead of him on the depth chart, has seen him play almost as many games as Justin Holl and Travis Dermott. With Dermott and Rasmus Sandin both on the shelf, Liljegren has a chance to solidify a regular spot in the lineup and has already started to see minutes in Holl’s regular place alongside Jake Muzzin in the top-four.
It feels like Liljegren has been around for a long time but he is still just 22-years-old and appears to be coming into his own as an NHLer. The Leafs have been patient with their first-round pick from the 2017 draft and that patience has been rewarded in a big way so far this season. Nick Richard
May 2021 – Liljegren saw only 2 NHL contests in 2020-21 compared to 11 the year prior, but this was due only to the depth and health in front of him, not due to his own play. Adding another 5 pounds to his frame, 22-year-old Liljegren looked more comfortable than ever in the AHL while playing top-pairing minutes against the opponents’ top lines. He still isn’t an overly physical player, but he is strong and heavy enough to be effective at the net-front and even get a bit nasty on occasion. When he is fully engaged he is the most noticeable player on the ice thanks to his lateral agility and well-rounded toolbox. His decision-making can still be frustrating at times, flipping between too cautious and too aggressive, but this is the type of learning that should come with more pro experience. He has one more year on his ELC and on a less competitive team he would have earned himself more of an NHL audition by this point. In Toronto he will have to work twice as hard to unseat a veteran for a spot, we will see if he is up to the challenge next training camp. Hayden Soboleski
January 2021 – As expected, Liljegren will not be joining the Leafs for the start of the 2020-21 campaign. This would have been a longshot given the number of bodies ahead of him on the depth chart, but he still made a valiant push in training camp. He didn’t look out of place playing alongside full-time NHLers in camp scrimmages, and his outlet passing is a good fit for a fast Leafs team always ready to move the puck in the opponents’ direction. Do not lose faith in the 21-year-old, he will get an NHL chance and he will have all the tools to be a serviceable point-producing 4th or 5th defenseman once he makes the jump. Hayden Soboleski
October 2020 – Liljegren did not end up playing for the Leafs in their short post-season, but participated in team activities up until the final roster cuts. After a cup of coffee in 2019-20, the Leafs’ off-season moves are indicating that he will be limited to small auditions once again in 2020-21. Adding Brodie and Bogosian to the right side while also publicly discussing the potential for Dermott to switch sides are all indications that a third-pair spot will have to be fought for and earned if Liljegren wants it, and unfortunately his play isn’t quite there yet. He could always surprise us in camp with a more confident and assertive game like we see in the AHL, but its more likely that he gets a chance to repeat as an AHL All-Star while gaining more confidence and quicker decision making. Hayden Soboleski
July 2020 – In preparation for the playoffs play-in round, Liljegren has been deemed unfit to play and has had his spot on the Phase 3 roster taken for the time being. As per NHL rules, no details were provided as to what caused this removal. Hopefully he can be deemed fit to play soon, otherwise we will be waiting until the 2020-21 season for his next NHL tryout. Hayden Soboleski
February 2020 – With both Rielly and Ceci out of commission Liljegren has gotten into 7 contests for the Maple Leafs. Unfortunately, his fantasy impact has been lackluster as he makes the transition. His 1 point in those seven games was a secondary assist, his (approximate) 1 hit and 1 block per game is fine but doesn’t move the needle, but most disappointing is his single SOG through seven games. He is deferring to pass far too often, not getting shots on net through traffic when he does try, and often opting for safe plays in the offensive zone. Once he’s given more of green light, or perhaps more confidence, his upside should have more of a chance to shine through. Hayden Soboleski
January 2020 – Liljegren has been recalled to the Maple Leafs as a strong of injuries has hit the big club. He currently sits as the 7th d-man unless a new injury gets announced, and they’ve called him up just as a formality in the past, so make sure he actually gets into games before adding him as a short-term stream. That being said, the 20-year-old is having a very good season in the AHL, setting a career-high pace of 24 points in 33 games so far, leading the Marlies’ defensive corps. and top-10 among AHL d-men. There is certainly short-term fantasy value to be had here if he gets into the lineup. Hayden Soboleski
October 2019 – As noted in the previous update, his initial roster listing was indeed a paper move. Liljegren has now been loaned to the Marlies where he projects to be their top minute-muncher. It appears he may be moved up and down regularly for cap reasons.
September 2019 – Despite the ups and downs of the last calendar year, and his D-1 season possibly raising the bar higher than appropriate in the eyes of many fans, Liljegren has earned himself an NHL spot on the Leafs out of training camp and pre-season. Realistically this is likely due to his low salary and waiver-exemption and he won’t see consistent ice, but he has beaten out depth names such as Harpur and Gravel for this position of extra defenseman and that’s a victory for the youngster. Let’s see if he can withstand the speed and IQ required in the NHL – this is more or less a sneak preview for fantasy owners who are expecting him to become a full-time NHLer in 2020-21. Hayden Soboleski
December 2018 – Liljegren has suffered a high ankle sprain and is week-to-week for the time being. This means he will likely miss the WJCs – bad news for everyone involved. Hayden Soboleski
December 2018 – The Leafs will be loaning Liljegren to Team Sweden for the upcoming WJC. As he quietly progresses in the AHL, this will be a good chance to stack up against some top competition, possibly even with the same partner (Sandin) he plays with on the Marlies. Hayden Soboleski
November 2018 – It would be wrong to say Liljegren has done nothing noteworthy in his second year with the Marlies so far, but he hasn’t done anything dramatic enough to change his fantasy outlook. He is slowly learning the defensive side of the game to compliment his strong offensive movement, and playing with a smart partner like Sandin could really bring him along. Expect another season of quiet development for the high-upside d-man, he will make it to the big leagues eventually but rushing helps nobody. Hayden Soboleski
Feb 2018 – Liljegren is developing well after he had a successful but not outstanding run with Sweden at the World Junior Championship. In 21 games with the Marlies, Lilegren has one goal and nine assists for ten points. Lilegren’s skating is being displayed regularly as not many can match his ability. He plays well especially in the offensive end, and his defense is steady but needs some more development time. It is likely that Lilegren will play at least another year with the Marlies before he will be ready for the NHL. Brian Harling
February 2017 – Liljegren was the early second overall ranked prospect for the 2017 draft. He missed time due to Mono and injuries which cost him a shot at the World Junior and subsequently he has slipped down some rankings. He is a mobile two-way puck moving defender that moves the puck up ice either by crisp, smart passes or carrying the puck with his long powerfuil skating stride. He hakes good reads and reacts smart and quickly processing the game at a high level. Liljegren has shown well playing against men at the pro level in Sweden as well as in international tournaments such as the U18 in North Dakota and the Five Nations most recently. Don’t let Liljegren fall down your draft rankings as he should be the first defenceman selected in any draft. Peter Harling