Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: Rogle (SHL)
A tantalizing skater and puck mover with a fluid two-way skill set, Timothy Liljegren matches his athletic attributes with an equally superior mind for the offensive game. Some young players just naturally move and look spark an NHL-like transition game at a young age. That's the right-shot Liljegen in a nutshell, as he displays many of the required traits to become an impact NHL defenseman.
After a down year, though, scouts need to figure out if patience and coaching are the keys to bringing it all together on a consistent basis.
Liljegren, who entered the draft year as a consensus top-three talent, might be a classic case of over-scrutiny where patience can pay off. His tools and previous body of work suggest the potential is present to become a home run prospect, but the reality is that he does have issues that need to be ironed out before making an impact, primarily in the areas of making better use of his teammates and not trying to force a play solely on his own ability.
When you peel back the layers of his season and realize how a bout of mononucleosis in the fall grossly impacted his ability to perform, especially considering that he admittedly rushed his return, you can better understand what Liljegren was up against last season. Knocking off rust and regaining strength and mental stamina are not easy tasks to accomplish when under a microscope.
Upon his return to action, Liljegren posted one goal and five points in 19 SHL games with Rogle BK before a brief deployment to Timra of Sweden's second division and then an eventual return to Rogle's J20 squad, where he earned his greatest share of minutes.
Liljegren didn't particularly wow the scouting community when posting two assists and 28 shots on goal in seven games at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, but he did show glimpses of a higher-end skill set while leveling out his defensive play and decision making over the course of the tournament.
Liljegren will get a chance to reset his development next season as he plays out the final year of his SHL contract with Rogle BK prior to an expected North American entry in 2018-19.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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