Timothy Liljegren is a young defenseman with potential. While he hasn’t made it yet to stardom with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he’s shown himself to be promising. In this post, I’ll share why I believe he will become a solid defenseman for the Maple Leafs and why I believe he’s on the cusp of a breakout season.

Obviously, in a sport like hockey, there’s no guarantee – ever. Yet, in Liljegren’s case, several factors suggest that he could significantly impact the team’s success this upcoming season.

Here are three reasons why I believe Liljegren is worth keeping an eye on.

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Reason One: Liljegren Is a Proven Winner on the Ice

One fact stands out. When Liljegren is on the ice, the Maple Leafs usually win. Over the past two regular seasons, his presence has spelled success. At 5v5, the team has scored an impressive 107 goals while allowing a mere 73 when Liljegren is on the ice. These underlying analytics show what really has been an elite 59 percent goals-for rating. A 50 percent rating is average.

Timothy Liljegren, 2020-21 Upper Deck Allure – Red Rainbow Jersey

This rating is more than just getting lucky. His consistently higher-than-expected-goals percentages of 59% and 52% over the past two seasons suggest that his positive impact on the team’s offence is no fluke. Liljegren has the ability to contribute positively to his team’s performance. That’s a promising sign for a potential breakout this season. I think he just has to play more.

Reason Two: Liljegren Has Made a Valuable Contribution Despite Limited Role

True, Liljegren is not the most prolific scorer. Nor does he assume a prominent role in special teams’ play. However, his contributions extend past the scoresheet. He simply makes a difference on the ice.

Given that, it can be confusing why the head coach Sheldon Keefe’s trust in him hasn’t grown. He’s been nurtured well and, when he’s had significant responsibilities, he’s done well. In short, he has excelled despite these limited chances to show his potential to do more when given the opportunity.

This season, I believe the coaching staff will expand his role. That move will help give him a chance to unlock further potential.

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Reason Three: Liljegren Has a Youthful Upside

Liljegren is approaching his 25th birthday. Although this is often considered to be in the later stages of a player’s prime years in hockey, that doesn’t always hold true with defensemen. They can take a bit longer to develop. Additionally, he still falls within an age range where significant development can occur.

It’s not uncommon for NHL defensemen to elevate their games to star status later in their careers. In this case, Liljegren has time on his side. The combination of his experience and youth provides a foundation for continued growth. He has the potential for a breakout season.

The Bottom Line

Although a breakout season for Liljegren is far from guaranteed, for these three reasons I predict that he will lift his game this season to new heights. I believe that he’s a Toronto player worth watching closely in the upcoming NHL campaign. In fact, I believe he could emerge as a key factor in the Maple Leafs’ quest for a solid postseason.

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