Lou Lamoriello discusses Liljegren, Woll and expectations for the upcoming season in the Friday links.
Lamoriello on Leafs prospects: “We don’t have room for a lot of them” (TSN)
Lou Lamoriello is “extremely pleased” with Toronto’s current crop of prospects and hopes they’ll start pushing the team’s veterans soon. The Leafs GM offered progress reports on defenceman Timothy Liljegren and goalie Joseph Woll who are both playing at the World Junior Summer Showcase this week.
On where Timothy Liljegren is in his development:
Lamoriello: We are extremely pleased. Last year, he had mono, so he missed quite a bit of the year. Where he is today and what we’ve seen of him – we’re happy.
Liljegren puts Sweden up 1-0. Involved every shift – some good, some bad pic.twitter.com/LGMeBsuhPN
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) August 4, 2017
On the state of the franchise’s prospect pool:
Lamoriello: We’re extremely pleased. I think our scouting staff has just done a tremendous job with the prospects that we have. We don’t have room for a lot of them. Hopefully they can push some of the veterans.
On the importance of events like the Summer Showcase and the WJC tournament:
Lamoriello: We always feel it’s important because it’s a chance for them to compare themselves against their peers and also for us to see exactly how much they’ve improved or how much more they need to improve.
On the progress of goaltender prospect Joseph Woll:
Lamoriello: He had an outstanding year at Boston College. I’m sure we’ll see him tomorrow. I wasn’t here at the beginning of the week, but our people mentioned that he played very well. He’s a prospect, without question.
On assessing the offseason for the Maple Leafs:
Lamoriello: We’re anxious to get going, like everyone. We’ve added a couple of veterans, as we all know. Hopefully, we’re better than where we were. We were pleased, certainly, with how our young players came in and their development throughout the year. Now they have to get better. They have to drive the engine.
On the importance of continued growth from the team’s young talent:
Lamoriello: Without question, the biggest improvement has to come from within. The great thing about it is that they should get better. They want to get better. They work at it. With where they are in their age group, they will get better.
On keeping tabs on the players’ offseasons:
Lamoriello: Well, there is always contact as far as exactly what they’re doing and how they’re training. Our sports medicine team, which is outstanding, is in constant contact with them and gives us weekly reports.
Leafs prospect Liljegren eyeing spot on Sweden’s world junior team (Sportsnet)
“I think Timothy started out good,” Sweden coach Tomas Monten told IIHF.com. “I tried to talk to him coming in here that he doesn’t have a lot to prove, to try to play his game, and I think he did. I think he can be an asset for us.” Not only does the 17th-overall pick have a chance to be an impactful player in the tournament, but he has an opportunity to share the blue line with the potential 2018 first-overall pick, Rasmus Dhalin.
Poll: Will the Maple Leafs have the NHL’s best offence next season? (PHT)
Getting back to the offensive side of the puck, what the Maple Leafs were able to accomplish last season was remarkable. Two of their players scored more than 30 goals (Matthews had 40, Nazem Kadri had 32) and they had three guys score 20 or more (James van Riemsdyk had 29, Nylander had 22, Connor Brown had 20), while Marner and Tyler Bozak scored 19 and 18 respectively.
NHL Top 25 under 25: William Nylander ranks No. 16 (SBN)
Matthews no doubt makes players better just by his mere presence on the ice, but Nylander was a great complement to the Maple Leafs’ No. 1 center. At even strength, the two made each other better in both goals and possession statistics when they were occupying time on the same line, according to Natural Stat Trick. Nylander’s possession stats were at his best when playing on the top line with Matthews and Zach Hyman, and his even strength 53.2 overall CF% was third-best by a Maple Leaf forward last year.
Leafs have tough decisions looming on Bozak, Komarov, JVR (Puck Daddy)
It’s pretty clear that van Riemsdyk has the highest value of anyone in that group. He’s 28 years old and he scored 29 goals and 62 points last season which was second on the team. He seems to fly under the radar now because of Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, but there’s no denying he’s an important piece of the puzzle. The questions is, can the Leafs afford to pay him what he can earn on the open market?
From ‘pain’ to playoffs, young Leafs face heightened expectations next year (PHT)
Their possible success, as is the case with every team, next season will depend on multiple factors. Will Matthews, Marner and Nylander be able to build off their impressive rookie seasons, or will there be a dreaded sophomore slump in there? It will also require their best players to stay as healthy as possible. All three of their top young forwards were able to remain, for the most part, healthy during the regular season, with Marner playing the fewest games — at 77.
Top 25 Under 25: Miro Aaltonen arrives at 21 (PPP)
Aaltonen is a both a centre and a winger in a way that makes him more of a hybrid player. He is good at faceoffs, passable in the defensive zone, moves through the neutral zone like a winger and plays largely like a winger in the offensive zone. As a fourth line utility player, that’s not a bad set of skills, but does his game that got him top line play in Europe really translate to the fourth line on the Leafs?
Marleau: “With this group, I’m excited about making a long playoff run” (MLHS)
Watching Hockey Night in Canada, Toronto was always on. Growing up, I liked Wayne Gretzky, obviously, but Mario Lemieux was my guy in Pittsburgh when they were winning their championships. But the Maple Leafs were always on TV and you always wondered as a kid what it would be like to be able to play for them. They made a jersey for me and then I threw it on and it put a big smile on my face to see myself in the mirror wearing it. All of my buddies back home in Canada are excited for me. They can’t wait to see me on HNIC a lot.