If you came down to the Ricoh Coliseum, on Friday evening, for the sole purpose of watching Timothy Liljegren dominate in his first game with the Rookie Leafs, you may have left slightly underwhelmed.
Finishing that first game with a dash 4, Liljegren looked slightly out of place with the speed of the game early on, but then settled down when he was paired with ‘veteran’ Marlies defenceman Andrew Nielsen.
It was evident that he skated well, could control the powerplay but a sloppy style to the game around him did not showcase his true talents.
In Game #2, things were completely different. Paired with potential Leafs 6th D this season, Travis Dermott, it was evident from the beginning that the 17th pick overall had calmed down, refocused his energy and would make a difference.
This powerplay GIF shows a brief glimpse into what Liljegren will bring to the Leafs in the very near future. As he makes his way down the wall, Ottawa begins to focus on Liljegren, and ONLY Lil Tim. The 18 year old then slides a simple pass to Mason Marchment, who shows solid touch by getting the puck to a wide open Trevor Moore himself making no mistake.
Trevor Moore makes it 3-0 Leafs!
Simply put it was a much needed game for Timothy Liljegren. It will give him the confidence he needs moving forward into the main camp, and shows Coach Sheldon Keefe what to expect as the Marlies take the ice this season down at the Ricoh Coliseum.
If Travis Dermott does not make the opening night roster for the Maple Leafs, Keefe will be smiling ear to ear about the potential pairing of Dermott and Liljegren.
Speaking of Dermott, he played exactly the game that was expected of him on this evening. The 20 year old, who is was a Second Round Draft Pick from 2015 controlled the play, and with the exception of one mistake, did everything absolutely flawlessly. Dermott’s skating, vision and positioning make him look like an undervalued asset within the organization. Simply put there is zero point in playing Martin Marincin ahead of Travis Dermott when the Leafs open their season in October.
Dermott now heads into the main camp, in Niagara Falls, with a game under his belt, knowing this 6th spot on the Leafs blueline is his for the taking. There are not very many people around the Leafs at this Rookie Tourney who are betting against this kid, people (media, fans) who are already pencilling his name onto that opening night roster and it would take a less than dominant performance to see him back with the Marlies this season.
Two games. Two losses.
The 2017 Rookie Tournament came to a close with a shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Having controlled much of the game, after a strong first half by Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders), the Marlies seemed to take their foot off the gas pedal.
Losing at anytime is disappointing, losing on home ice is equally frustrating, but let us keep this in perspective. It was a showcase tournament and there were definitely some positive individual performances that came from this weekend.
Mason Marchment had a strong weekend, by showing the physical side to his game, and some offensive flair. He and Carl Grundstrom seemed to have chemistry together and would look great creating mayhem on a line this winter, but the young Swede will be heading home once the main camp is complete.
Mason Marchment with a big hit and the Leafs trail 1-0 after 20.
Other standouts would have to include Martins Dzierkals. Similar to last Rookie Tournament, Dzierkals was an offensive standout again this year.
A third round pick in 2015, the Latvian Native, was all around the puck during this weekend of play and seems to want to prove his last season was a minor hiccup on the road to the NHL. Having signed a 1 year deal with the Marlies earlier this summer, this is a solid first step in putting his path back on track.
Other than those that I have already mentioned there were glimpses of decent hockey, but nothing that should be included in a jaw dropping category.
The main camp gets underway starting Friday September 15th at the Gale Center in Niagara Falls, and runs until Sunday September 17th.
There are free tickets available to the first 1,000 people, so if you are interested get there early.
Another Rookie Tournament complete.
More information as it becomes available.