Toronto Maple Leafs: Prospect report at the quarter mark of the season

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Kasperi Kapanen
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Kasperi Kapanen /
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AHL Marlies Defence

Timothy Liljegren

It is never easy for an 18-year-old to make the jump to professional hockey but for the Leafs 2017 first round pick, he’s had to make a lot of adjustments moving to North America. It looks like the decision to keep him with the Marlies was the right one. He has already played against men in the SHL, but the switch to the smaller ice surface is usually the biggest challenge for European players.

So far it has not been a big problem for Liljegren who recently said that keeping things simple have helped him this season.

Even as the youngest defenceman in the AHL he has eight points in 14 games and feels that the quicker pace in the AHL plays to his strengths. Scott Wheeler recently wrote in the Athletic about Liljegren’s progress in the AHL. He looks at how Calle Rosen has helped by checking in on him on and off the ice ti make sure that he is comfortable with the move from Sweden. The best way to describe how Liljegren’s game has evolved since the Rookie Tournament is by what Johnsson had to say about his fellow countryman.

"“He makes a lot of plays where I’m like ‘wow, this kid is awesome.’ I remember on the road trip there was a game where he made two-seam passes on the same shift, exactly the same play. Too bad the guy who didn’t get the puck couldn’t score but it was too awesome,” Johnsson said, laughing."

He will be playing for Sweden at the World Juniors after missing last year;s tournament with with an illness. While most eyes will be on potential No.1 pick Rasmus Dahlin, many will be watching to see if Liljegren can dominate against the top prospects in the world.

Travis Dermott

Like Liljegren, Dermott has been a project for Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe ever since he made the full-time transition to the AHL last season. There were serious of whether the 20-year-old could make the Leafs this season but the patient approach to his development appears to be paying off.

Wheeler wrote about how Dermott has been used in more defensive situations which has impacted his offensive numbers with only eight points in 21 games this season. When the Marlies need to shutdown the opposing team’s top line, Dermott is usually over the boards in that situation.

Dermott is also playing more on the penalty kill as Wheeler mentions in an attempt to build him into the Marlies go to shut down defender.

This will put a big smile on Mike Babcock’s face because as of right now, Dermott could be the Leafs third best option on the penalty kill. A lot of talk has been on the Leafs need to go out and find a top-four defenceman. If the team is patient, there is no reason why Dermott could not be that player.