While the Colorado Avalanche was busy hoisting the Stanley Cup, Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas was hard at work hammering out a new contract. The recipient? One of Toronto’s most coveted youngsters – Timothy Liljegren. After an impressive 2021-22 National Hockey League campaign, Liljegren is set to remain a Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future. What does his contract look like? What does it mean for the Leafs? And how excited should die-hard fans of Leafs Nation be? Let’s read on and find out.
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In today’s NHL, term and dollar amount are integral to the overall success of any organization when it comes to contract negotiations. On July 26, 2022, Liljegren, a pending restricted free agent (RFA) and the Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a $2.8 million, two-year contract extension. This deal carries with it an average annual value (AAV) of $1.4 million. A team-friendly deal to say the least, given how Toronto is right up against the all-important salary cap.
Few in and around the Leafs’ organization would argue that this is a significant piece of business that should age very nicely over the next year or so. When you factor in Liljegren’s age, combined with his high upside and impressive skill set, this really is a win-win for both the club and player. Regardless of which angle or perspective you view this trade from, GM Dubas did a truly masterful job.
Promising Young Defenseman
Drafted in the first round, 17th overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Kristianstad, Sweden native represents an important piece of the Leafs’ puzzle. As a player, Liljegren has shown glimpses of being a solid, bonafide top-four defenseman at the NHL level. He’s quick, shifty, possesses an excellent first-pass, and isn’t afraid to jump in and join the rush. For a high-octane team like the Leafs filled with prolific scorers such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander, getting them the puck quickly is paramount. Liljegren has that innate ability to move the puck which gels nicely with Head Coach Sheldon Keefe’s system.
Last season saw Liljegren skate in 61 regular season games, tallying five goals and 23 points. In addition, he finished the year with a plus-15 rating and 16:24 worth of ice time. Each of the aforementioned stats were career highs. To say his two-year extension was warranted would be a massive understatement. Get excited, Leaf fans, one of your homegrown talents is “sticking around” for the next two seasons.
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