Offensive blueliners are important in this new hockey world.
Traditionally, defenders defended and forwards attacked, but in this modern hockey world, a defensive player who can skate at speed like a scoring winger and move the puck like a playmaking center are items that are coveted like a dragon covets treasure.
The Coyotes are lucky enough to have one of the best in the world in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, they may well have their eye on potentially one of the next great puckmovers to come from Sweden.
Timothy Liljegren NHL draft profile | SB Nation 2017 NHL Draft...
❤️ or on 2017 draft prospect Timothy Liljegren, hockey fans?Posted by SB Nation NHL on Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Timothy Liljegren - Flash Stats
Rögle BK J20 - 12 Games Played - 5 Goals - 2 Assists - 7 points - 8 PIM
Rögle BK - 19 Games Played - 1 Goal - 4 Assists - 5 points - 4 PIM
Worlds U18 - 17 Games Played - 1 Goal - 9 Assists - 10 Points - 8 PIM
Rogle BK's Timothy Liljegren is 17 years old. He is a 6 foot, 190lb native of Kristianstad, Sweden, and he is one of the most intriguing prospects by far of this year's draft class. This is because, as Brand New had it, ‘he plays like God and the Devil are raging inside him.’
Let me explain. First, the angels. Liljegren has feet that, as Paul Quarrington put it in King Leary, allow him to dance across the frozen icebelly of the world. His skating is peerless - fast, smooth, and with lateral motion that is only a half-stride from teleportation. He is a confident, skilled player who loves to take the puck on his stick in a way that few forwards do, never mind defencemen.
If there's a player in the NHL he's most worthy of comparison to, it's Erik Karlsson, and that's probably his ceiling as a player. It is also not an overblown comparison.
There are few players in this draft who move the puck with as much authority, as much ease, and as much confidence as he does. When he makes a play, it is with the vision and authority of a player who's been doing it for years.
The trouble is, when the demons inside Liljegren come out to play, they set him back down in defensive hell.
You see, there's a fine line between confident and cocky, and one of the biggest knocks on Liljegren is that he gets caught trying to make the fancy play far too often for an NHL-calibre defenseman. The fancy pass up the middle that gets intercepted, with a winger already posted up on the boards. The end-to-end rush that leaves him out of position. The pinch in that leaves a gaping hole for opposition forwards to breakaway.
These are all still parts of Liljegren's game in a way that they're perhaps not in, say, Miro Heiskanen's. But then, you have to remember, this is a 17-year-old. These things are, however, making scouts look at him a little less surely at the real top end of the draft, which means that someone is going to pick up an absolute bargain. Possibly even the Coyotes at 23.
Let's take a look at some Liljegren highlights, which unsurprisingly focus on his good side (I looked for plays where he was at fault, but strangely the Internet doesn't really appear to collect those).
Firstly, that SHOT. If you're not looking at Liljegren's vicious Thor's hammer of a slapshot and salivating at the idea of that being regularly fed on the point during a powerplay, you're probably dead inside. The best example of it is at 2:16.
Bear in mind, as you watch this, that he's coming onto a bobbling puck at full speed into the zone under pressure from a defending forward and making the kind of contact most NHL defensemen would kill to be able to make standing still in shooting practice. More to the point, his shooting motion is so fluid. That stick goes up and down like a piston in a revving Dodge Hemi, and it's absolutely deadly.
The wrister after, too, is equally telling. That wrister is being delivered with a power and accuracy many draft-eligible D can't get on their slapshots.
His skating is evident in all the clips, but the best example of his vision comes early in the video, around 0:15 in. With a shot like his, you could forgive him for blazing away at every opportunity, but the calmness to fake the shot and find an open teammate at the back post? That's not something many 17-year-olds have.
Indeed, Timothy Liljegren has a lot of things not many 17-year-olds have, and that's what makes him such an attractive draft prospect. The question for scouts, and one that may see him fall, is if he can learn to balance his gives with the impetuousness of youth that often lets him down.
Right now, Liljegren is a flawed diamond. If the team that drafts him is willing to spend some time applying some polish, he could be the steal of the first round if taken anywhere outside the top five.
Like at seven, perhaps, Arizona.