If the Leafs want to re-sign RFA Timothy Liljegren, here's what it may cost

Dean Chaudhry
June 2, 2024  (5:34 PM)

Timothy Liljegren aggressively skating through the neutral zone.
Photo credit: Dan Hamilton - USA Today Sports

Perhaps a forgotten name this off-season, Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren is in line for a new contract but the million dollar question is, how much term and for how much money?

Drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, there were a lot of expectations surrounding the prospects of Timothy Liljegren. Once seen as one of the better youngsters in his draft class, Liljegren dipped a little in the rankings after having dealt with a bout of mononucleosis during his draft year. Nevertheless, the Maple Leafs were more than happy to scoop him up with the 17th overall pick and it paid dividends early on.
Liljegren played for the Toronto Marlies in 2017-18 and recorded 17 points in 44 games during his rookie campaign. He then added 15 points in 43 games the following season before finally making his NHL debut during the COVID-interrupted season of 2019-20. He tallied an assist in 11 games with the Leafs while also having a breakout season with the Marlies where he scored 30 points in just 40 games.
Since then his development has hit a bit of a snag. He has played a lot more regularly with the Maple Leafs, scoring 14 goals and 64 points in 183 games over the last 3 seasons with an ATOI of 17:56. However, he hasn't taken that much needed leap the club has desperately desired. This past season, he was well on his way of smashing his previous highs but he was limited to just 55 games.
He scored 3 goals and 23 points, was a plus-3, and averaged a career-high 19:40 ATOI to go along with 116 blocked shots and 92 hits. He added an assist in 6 playoff games and averaged almost 2 minutes less of ice time at 17:52.
At the very least, Liljegren will be a restricted free agent this summer, which allows for a little bit more leeway for the front office to work with. However, the big question that should be on everyone's mind is what will his new contract look like? A good comparable would be his former teammate and fellow countryman in Rasmus Sandin. The former Maple Leafs first rounder signed a 5-year contract with an AAV of $4.6 million with the Washington Capitals earlier this year.
Considering they both signed matching deals with Toronto at the 1.4 AAV, the fact that they hold very similar numbers throughout their careers, and play an almost identical style, it makes you wonder if that's the deal that both sides will be looking to strike. Liljegren's camp will assuredly be trying to attain the lofty heights of a $4.6 million AAV but can the Maple Leafs trust that he will bring back that much value over the next 3-5 years?
Health permitting, Liljegren can turn into the top-4 defenseman the Maple Leafs need him to become. He will be tasked to man the 2nd power play unit next season and while he saw a career-high in minutes played while shorthanded, they need to see a lot more from him on the defensive side of the puck.
The 25-year-old has plenty of room to grow and with the cap rising exponentially, not to mention that he's a right-handed shot as well, his value will be higher than most would like to admit. Extending him for the next 3-4 years at a cap hit under $4 million would work best for both sides, if the Liljegren is not amenable to the idea, we may very well see a scenario in which Liljegren is moved and the Leafs blueline looks a lot different next season.
2 JUIN   |   394 ANSWERS
If the Leafs want to re-sign RFA Timothy Liljegren, here's what it may cost

Would you extend Timothy Liljegren to a similar deal that Rasmus Sandin signed?

Yes, I think he will have a big 2024-25 season8321.1 %
No, he hasn't shown much improvement20151 %
I'd be okay with a little less term and money11027.9 %
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