When it comes to the 2017 NHL amateur draft we’ve really only heard one name at the top, Nolan Patrick. Names like Maxime Comtois and Kristian Vesalainen have come up as possible candidates for the Golden Knights, but we’ve already crowned Patrick as the prized jewel of next June’s draft. However, TSN’s Craig Button wrote an article last week about Swedish prospect Timothy Liljegren as a possible number one. Since Patrick has only skated in 10 games this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings, other options are starting to creep into the picture. The 6’2″ defenseman is described as smooth and mature. Liljegren the number one rated blue liner, could be a future player Vegas fans root for. Although, the ping pong balls have to fall our way.
What makes Liljegren a top talent is his maturity and effective play in high competition. The 17 year-old Swede is currently playing in the Swedish Elite league for Rögle BK. There’s not much footage on him available, and he’s been sidelined with mono, but most believe he’s ready for the big stage in North America, so we’ll have to take their word for it. Lately, the NHL has showcased its young talent sooner than later. McJesus, Jack Terrier Eichel, Papi Matthews and Patrick ‘Laine’s Better’ all made a pro-roster their first year.
Are Nolan Patrick and Liljegren prospects ready for the NHL? Neither are rated like McDavid, Eichel and Matthews were, yet Patrick and Liljegren are still considered franchise players. If the Golden Knights are lucky enough to draft either, fans should be very excited. I couldn’t imagine Vegas rushing draft picks to the big club, so fans might wait a year or two. George McPhee has already discussed developing his prospects. With that in mind, McPhee will probably plan on expansion and free agency for his 2017 roster. As we’ve discussed already, playoffs are not the Golden Knights main concern out of the gate. Building for the future is hopefully what this organization is planning. A big, two-way defenseman like Liljegren would be top priority to the organization.
As a talent evaluator, Button is well respected around domestic and international hockey. He’s had success projecting a prospects impact in the past. Even with limited playing time for both, they’re in Button’s top two draft slots. What does that say for the rest of the top ten? If he’s convinced there are two highly skilled prospects then Vegas fans should be very optimistic. Look out if Patrick or Liljegren end up with the Golden Knights. The Pacific teams won’t be winning as much as they’re expecting on the Strip.