In our 2017 NHL Draft Preview, we look closely at some of the prospects that could be available when the Hurricanes draft at 12th overall on June 23 in Chicago.
- DOB: April 30, 1999 - Kristianstad, Sweden
- Team: Rogle BK (SHL)
- Defenseman | Shoots: R | 6’0”, 192 pounds
- 2016-17 Stats: 19 GP - 1G, 4A, 5 Points, 4 PIM
Timothy Liljegren did not have the 2016-17 season he, or many draft analysts, expected. The mid-sized defenseman was plagued with injuries and illnesses, including mononucleosis, that kept him off the ice for long stretches and had a substantial effect on his draft ranking. Liljegren was atop many early- and mid-season rankings, battling future stars Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier at the top of lists, before falling into the second tier as the season went on.
Liljegren is a right handed, puck moving defenseman that possesses top-tier speed and hockey IQ. With tremendous upside, Liljegren’s skill set yields comparisons to some of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League including the Senators’ Erik Karlsson, the Kings’ Drew Doughty and the Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He has the ability to lead a power play unit and is a gifted passer. The strong point of his offensive game is his slap shot. Liljegren can release hard shots from the point that often find their way into the back of the net.
Liljegren is an average sized defenseman but will need to add additional weight in order to succeed in the pros. Listed at 6’0” and 192 lbs, an additional ten pounds would allow Liljegren to step immediately into an NHL lineup.
Liljegren will need to address some of the concerns surrounding his defensive game. Physicality is a weakness of his and is something defenseman in the NHL must possess in order to thrive. Players in the NHL are larger than Liljegren’s current opponents in Sweden, and he will have to match their physicality or risk being overwhelmed.
It’s unfortunate that Liljegren’s medical issues came in his draft year, because he was never really able to demonstrate his readiness for the NHL game. Next season will be crucial to his development and will go a long way to determine his NHL capabilities.
Despite the hit to his draft stock, it is unlikely that Liljegren will fall all the way to the Hurricanes at the 12th pick. Mock drafts generally have him no lower than eighth overall, so if the Canes have him eyed up, they would likely need to pull off a trade to get him.
Whoever ends up with the Swede will get a future star, and it may be an unlikely team, perhaps one sensing an opportunty to trade up for a player with top-three potential that wouldn’t require a top-three pick. It may take another season with Rogle until he is ready to make the jump but he won’t have a tough time making the transition. He will most likely be a top pairing defenseman and at worst, a solid top four defenseman. The Oliver Ekman-Larsson comparison seems the most plausible but Liljegren may only develop into that type of player given ample time and patience by the team that drafts him.