Leafs notebook: Liljegren pairs up with Dermott
NIAGARA FALLS, ONT.— First-round pick Timothy Liljegren has been paired with Marlies defenceman Travis Dermott so far in training camp.
Both are good skaters, and seen as puck-moving defencemen.
“He’s a strong skater, he talks a lot and he wants the puck as well,” Liljegren said of Dermott. “I think we have good chemistry. I try to call for the puck when I have a chance to do something. He calls for the puck when I’m stuck, so I give it to him.”
Dermott, deemed the Leafs’ top defensive prospect with Marlies, says he has enjoyed pairing with Liljegren.
“He’s a player that doesn’t take too long to get used to,” Dermott said of Liljegren. “A very skilled guy. He understands his surroundings. If I’m open, he’ll find me.” PHONE HOME: Leafs coach Mike Babcock says he stays away from hockey talk when he chats with players over the phone in the off-season.
“I try to touch base with them, I try never to talk about hockey at all, until later in the summer, catch up and see how they’re doing,” said Babcock. “I got young people in my house, they leave and they like it when people talk to them. People like to be talked to and know that you care about them and I like our guys and care about them and want them to do well so I like to touch base.” NEW DAD: Defenceman Nikita Zaitsev’s absence from Friday’s camp — explained by Babcock as a “middle-body” issue — became clearer Saturday when Zaitsev’s agent announced the defenceman became a father. His wife, Margo, gave birth to daughter Vera. LEARNING CURVE: Carl Grundstrom, who finished the season with the Marlies during their playoff run last year, says he understands if the Leafs have to send him back to Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League.
“Frolunda has been good at helping me develop,” said Grundstrom. “We did a lot this past year. They are a really good club for young players.”