After a busy week where the Leafs lost Brendan Leipsic to the Expansion Draft, it was followed by a hectic weekend around the NHL. The Draft weekend saw many big names dealt to new teams. However, the Leafs stayed quiet and did not make a single trade throughout the weekend. Over the span of the weekend, impressive players like Antti Raanta, Brayden Schenn, Travis Hamonic, Artemi Panarin, and Oskar Sundqvist as well as three first round picks were all moved.
Many Leaf fans were hoping they would make a big move and acquire a true #1 right handed defenceman. Especially with all the rumours surrounding Colin Miller and/or Travis Hamonic coming to Toronto. They did the exact opposite and stayed put as every other team shuffled around their pieces. This was probably the best move for them at this point.
Trying to keep up with the trades. pic.twitter.com/jGlFY6svVS— David Alter (@dalter) June 23, 2017
The asking prices for both Miller and Hamonic were way too high. The Leafs would not have improved that much as Connor Carrick’s name was involved both of those rumours. Neither Miller nor Hamonic are that much better than Carrick. Hamonic ended up being traded to the Flames for a first and two seconds. The price is a bit much for a player like Hamonic. Another point to be mentioned is that Nylander has to be signed next summer with Matthews and Marner getting signed the summer after that. The Leafs are going to need all of the cap room they can get.
With that being said, do not expect the Leafs to make any huge signings at free agency. They will most likely sign a 4th line center. Hopefully they can re-sign Brian Boyle, sign a back-up goalie, and a bottom pairing defenceman or two. After his brutal leg injury at the end of the year, it is doubtful Roman Polak comes back for the Leafs. With a $1.2 million cap hit, Matt Hunwick provides great leadership and bottom pairing play. Coach Mike Babcock has also stated that he wants Hunwick back for next season. Essentially, expect the Leafs to make a few, small name, cheap signings which most likely will not be longer than two or three years long.
Babcock on Hunwick: "We'll work all that out. We really like him, we'd like to have him back. He's also part of it, also bout what he wants"— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 21, 2017
Now on to some draft talk. Timothy Liljegren is a Toronto Maple Leaf! There are so many reasons to be ecstatic with this pick. He will most likely end up being an absolute steal of a pick at #17th overall. Liljegren is a wicked fast, high risk, puck moving, right handed defenceman, with an unreal wrist shot. Coming into the season, Liljegren was projected to go in the top five, with some actually ranking him second overall behind consensus number one pick at the time, Nolan Patrick. Like Patrick, Liljegren also missed a big portion of his season. Ultimately, it ended up dropping him so far.
Liljegren got mono before the season started so he missed the first two months of the season. He admitted to coming back too early, which really affected his play for the rest of the year. He never quite found his step coming back from sickness. Liljegren ended the season with five points in 19 games, which still is not awful for a defenceman. Liljegren has a bit of work to do on his defensive game and hockey IQ. Offensively, he just has to fine polish all of the incredible skills he already possesses.
Liljegren plays a really risky game. It has him making low chance plays or last minute pinches. his play can yield very high rewards, kind of how Jake Gardiner plays. He makes some bad turnovers, but they are ultimately overshadowed by his elite offensive and puck moving skill. Liljegren keeps his head up. His feet are always moving and he is always driving the play when he is on the ice. Liljegren is expected to go back to the SHL next year for one more year in Sweden before he comes overseas to hopefully slot right into the Leafs lineup. It is very exciting to have a true, elite #1 potential, blue chip prospect who is a right handed defenceman. Get ready for Liljegren, Leafs fans!
Here is a quick look at all of the other picks the Leafs made on Saturday:
Not much is known about the draft picks here on Armchair, but apparently Finnish right handed defenceman Eemeli Rasanen is supposed to be pretty good. He is an absolute monster at 6’7″. He played his first year in the OHL for the Kingston Frontenacs. Rasanen scored 39 points in 66 games, which is pretty good for a rookie season in the OHL. It will be interesting to see how he, and all of the others picks, pan out!
Just to leave you anxious for his arrival to Toronto, here is another Timothy Liljegren highlight video! Leaf’s fans, you cannot wait to see him play in the blue and white.
Name a more iconic quartet, I'll wait. pic.twitter.com/6y4TxfYGgC— Adam Laskaris (@adam_laskaris) June 25, 2017
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