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Timothy Liljegren will play in the World Junior Championships next month

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Unless Liljegren is injured or in the NHL, the Maple Leafs have to release him if asked.

Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

Every year in December you have to figure out where you put your snow shovel, the Christmas tree stand, the Menorah and that doormat that says “Bah Humbug!”. You spend weeks trying to get Jingle Bell Rock out of your head, and you can’t believe how dark it is. Given all that, is it any wonder we keep forgetting the rules on European players going to the World Junior Championships from the AHL?

Cast your mind back to 2015, and you will recall a controversy over William Nylander, Team Sweden, the Maple Leafs and the transfer agreement. There’s reference in the comments of that story to a post from General Fanager, now gone along with that site, that states that the transfer agreement with Sweden requires NHL teams to release players when requested unless they are on an NHL roster.

Today, amid fresh statements about Timothy Liljegren joining Team Sweden in Buffalo for the 2018 WJC, Dhiren Mahiban dug up this Kyle Dubas quote from that time.

Assuming, as seems obvious, that Sweden wants Liljegren on the roster, and that he’s healthy, he’ll be spending a few weeks off the Marlies and on Team Sweden.

Sweden generally runs a camp before Christmas for their junior players, who are excused from their SHL and Allsvenskan clubs without fuss. They travel to the USA this year on December 15, and play their first tuneup game in Rochester on December 18.

The Marlies have nine games between that day and the day after the WJC is over, so even if he joins Team Sweden as soon as they arrive, he is not missing a significant amount of play. The opportunity to play for his country, to measure himself against his peers and see where he stands since last summer as well as just the chance to play with a different system and coach, to stretch himself, is all very much worth it.

Liljegren missed some time with the Marlies due to a minor injury, but he is back in the lineup now. The team also has more than enough defensive depth to cover another absence.

Also expected at the WJC is Joseph Woll for the USA, and we might see the Finns add Eemeli Räsänen to their team. Most teams will announce their early ~30-player rosters next week, with final cuts to come one or two days before the tournament begins on Boxing Day.