The Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect development camp ended today, and before sending him on his way the team inked top 2017 draft pick Timothy Liljegren to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal is worth $925K per season, with a possible $400K in Schedule A performance bonuses. Earlier today GM Lou Lamoriello said that Liljegren would either play in the AHL or back in Sweden next season, despite being selected in the OHL import draft by Niagara. Signing his contract now allows the team to play him with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL right away.
The most telling fact of the signing is that Toronto already had 48 of their 50 contract spots filled for next season, with a deal still needed for Connor Brown. That deal and this one would put them right at the limit, a move that seems unnecessary if Liljegren was going to be loaned back to the SHL next year. If Liljegren does play in the AHL next season he would likely be the youngest player on the team, a role filled by fellow Swede Carl Grundstrom when he came over at the end of the year.
Liljegren of course was at one point expected to go as high as second overall, but a bout of mononucleosis and questions about his decision making saw him fall all the way to the Maple Leafs at #17. Many said right away that it was a steal, but those decision making questions still remain. Making the jump to North America would give him an early chance to work in the Maple Leafs’ system and attempt to start minimizing those mistakes, while also giving him an opportunity to showcase his elite skating ability in front of the hometown crowd.
Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star reported the financial breakdown of the deal.