In July 2019 the Toronto Maple Leafs organize its annual Development Summit, during which front office staff, coaches and guests present on a variety of hockey and non-hockey topics.
Kyle Dubas and Emiliano Martinez (IT department) collaborate on a talk about FC Barcelona’s style of play.
Andrew Brewer (now on FLA’s coaching staff) presents on the emotional impact of a pre-game pump-up video.
I, the team’s Hockey Operations Assistant, break down the synchronized movements of Bob and Mike Bryan, the record-holding tennis twins who partner in doubles.
A year later, that presentation becomes chapter two of Hockey Tactics 2020 (“The Perfect D Pair”).
When I talk about the Bryans’ connectedness, I’m really talking about the potential benefits of uniting TOR’s top prospects Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren on the same D pair.
They’re not twins but they’re close enough.
Liljegren, the righty, is the older of the two.
Sandin, the lefty, is a year younger.
Both Swedes made surprisingly quick jumps to the AHL before being yo-yoed between the Leafs, the press box and the Marlies.
But now the two fleet, skilled and smart players are ready for prime time, together.
According to HockeyViz.com, Sandin-Liljegren is TOR’s second-best D pair at controlling play at 5v5 so far this season, just behind the Sandin-Travis Dermott unit. Thanks to a few dozen uneventful minutes alongside Jake Muzzin, Liljegren is currently a league leader in 5v5 expected goals percentage.
Neither Sandin or Liljegren are perfect players. As one of the people who drafted, developed and coached them, I’m not even sure that they’ll end up as top-pair NHL Ds on their own. However, as a two-man unit, I think they’ll be able to do great things together.
Here are the four partner moves they use to dominate play.