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The Toronto Maple Leafs will open their 2022-23 training camp and take to the ice at the Ford Performance Centre on Wednesday, but they will be without the services of defenseman Timothy Liljegren. TSN’s Chris Johnston reported on Tuesday that the 23-year-old blueliner, who signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract this summer, will miss training camp with an unspecified injury. The club will not provide more details on Liljegren's status until GM Kyle Dubas addresses the media on Wednesday.
Liljegren posted a career-high 23 points (5 goals, 18 assists) in 61 regular season games last season and played in two playoff games, and after signing an extension was expected to challenge for a spot in the top four as one of two right-handed defensemen on the roster.
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There was some expectation that Liljegren’s potential elevation in the lineup could make pending free agent Justin Holl expendable, but the injury combined with the contract impasse with RFA Rasmus Sandin would seem to put that possibility on hold. Sandin’s agent Lewis Gross and the Leafs have reportedly not made any progress on a new deal.
Toronto reportedly offered the 22-year-old the same deal as Liljegren ($1.4 million AAV), which was turned down. On their “32 Thoughts” podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek indicated that Sandin’s camp may be looking at Columbus blueliners Jake Bean (2 x $2.33 million AAV) or Adam Boqvist (3 x $2.6 million AAV) as comparables, but with other RFA’s (LA’s Mikey Anderson – 1 x $1 million AAV and Sean Durzi - 2 x $1.7 million AAV) signing for less, their leverage may not be good.
Johnston believes that the injury will not have any bearing on negotiations, since Sandin slots in on the left side and Liljegren plays the right, but head coach Sheldon Keefe might see moving one of his three veteran lefty shooters in Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, or Mark Giordano to the right side as an option to have his best six blueliners in the lineup. Veteran Jordie Benn might also be a possibility to play the right side until Liljegren returns.