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Niagara IceDogs draft Toronto Maple Leafs pick Timothy Liljegren in CHL Import Draft

The Leafs top pick goes 12th overall to the best OHL team.

2017 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Today the CHL Import draft is held, where the 60 CHL teams get on a conference call and pick players from outside North America. This draft is a little bit different than picking the best player available: There are many side deals happening around the draft, and teams want to try to know if they pick a player, that there’s a chance that player could report. Also CHL teams are limited to two players who are considered imports per season, so not every team uses both of their picks each year, if they’re bringing back one or both of the import players from a previous season they’ll simply pass when it’s their turn to pick.

Some teams use this for a bit of publicity, picking players who are known to not come over - in the 2014 Import Draft the Mississauga Steelheads selected Leafs pick William Nylander, getting their name in the paper a little bit, even though it had been stated many times he was playing in Sweden the upcoming season.

This year, another team swung for the fences: Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick, 17th overall, Timothy Liljegren was drafted by the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

I’m on two sides of the fence here. As a Maple Leafs fan, I want what’s best for his development. I want him in the best possible situation.

As an IceDogs fan, however, I want him here in Niagara, playing down the street from me three nights a week so I can watch him and interview him and billet him and we can become best friends, and I’ll be thanked when he wins the Norris five years in a row.

Everyone has said all along that Liljegren would play in Sweden next year. In the SHL he’s playing against men many years his senior, facing challenging competition and being pushed to improve every shift. In the OHL he would be playing against peers from 16-20. He’d be a big fish in a small pond, facing competition around his skill level and not being as challenged as he would be in Sweden.

Yes, but if he was in Niagara, then the Leafs could keep an eye on him and come down to help him work on his development personally. You know, really show they care about him.

That’s....nice, but look at William Nylander. He stayed in Sweden and then made the jump to the Marlies when MODO was the SHL equivalent of the Colorado Avalanche. From a men’s league to a men’s league and now he’s one of the best players on the Maple Leafs! If he went to the OHL he’d be there for the entire season. Don’t forget Alex Nylander went to play for Mississauga and look at him now.

Don’t bring up the new Brent Gretzky, we’re talking about Maple Leafs picks here.

Sorry. He doesn’t have a lot of motivation to leave the SHL personally either. His family is in Sweden, his friends are there, plus he’s getting paid to play in the SHL. Can you top that?

He’d get a BMW if he played in Niagara?


Okay, okay, I get it. The SHL is where he came from, and that’s probably where he’ll stay until it’s time to play in Toronto.

Good to see you’re on my side now. So, why would the IceDogs use a pick on him?


Hang on, you can’t think that a hockey team would draft a player out of spite for being beaten in a championship game two years ago?

First of all: it happened TWICE, don’t forget 2012. Second of all, I doubt it, but I can dream. The most likely reason why they picked him is it’s a swing for the fences pick because the team knew they wouldn’t need to draft an import player, as they’ll have players from last season, or keep a spot open to make a trade with another team over the summer or mid-season.

Okay, that makes sense.

And if the Leafs plan was for him to get drafted by London and go play for the Knights? Well, the IceDogs can hold out for a good return. Like when the Barrie Colts drafted Kerby Rychel before his dad could draft him to Windsor.

You like a weird hockey league.

It’s the best.

Hey there’s an update added.

Aw nuts.