One thing that seems to always be in demand in the NHL is a reliable right-shot defender. This past weekend at the NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche spent two top-32 picks on right-shooting defenders that would be the best in the prospect class. Everyone believes Cale Makar has the potential to be a star in the NHL, but what about the second round pick? With that in mind, let me introduce Avs fans to Conor Timmins of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Had he been born three days earlier, Timmins would have been a sixth or seventh round pick in the 2017 draft - now thanks to a tremendous season in the OHL, he enters development camp as one of the top prospects in the Avalanche system.
Playing for one of the most potent offensive teams in the CHL, Timmins spent this season leading the Greyhounds - and the entire OHL in a number of offensive categories.
Not only did Timmins lead all draft eligible CHL defensemen in offensive production, he led all OHLers - regardless of age - in 5v5 production this season, producing at a higher rate than Mikhail Sergachev who was drafted 9th overall in 2016 and was just traded straight-up for Jonathan Drouin.
5v5 Production for OHL Defensemen
This past December, Hounds head coach Drew Bannister had glowing praise for Timmins: “He has been our most consistent defenseman since day 1 of the season. He’s been outstanding at times and very good at others. There have been very few nights when he hasn’t played well”
Consistency is always something that alludes young defenders, so it is a great sign that his head coach views Timmins in this way. He is a well-rounded defender that has significant improvement in his game this season due in large part to improved skating. He plays with a lot of intensity, which helps wins battles in his own end.
Timmins is a very smart player. He can see the play developing and shows tremendous control and patience with the puck that you don’t normally see from an 18-year old hockey player. He’s a great passer and shows a poise with the puck. While his vision and passing ability have gained him a lot of praise from OHL observers, Timmins should not be viewed as only a puck-moving defenseman. He’s a lot more.
He is very good in his own end. He reads the play well – a skill that allows him to anticipate passes and close gaps between himself and opponents. He’s got a physical edge to his game that helps him win battles both on the boards and in front of the net. The best word to use is ‘disruptive’ – Timmins has a knack for breaking up plays and he’s always making it difficult to create offense when he is on the ice.
One OHL scout told me before the draft that Timmins would drop out of the first round because he doesn’t “look pretty” on the ice. He doesn’t necessarily have the smoothest skating stride, and he won’t wow you with many highlight-reel plays, but what Timmins does is play a very strong all-around game. His biggest strength might be that he has no weaknesses. By that, I mean that Timmins might not have one elite skill, but he’s well above average in just about every aspect of the game.
The Avs got a steal when he fell to them at #32 - the proof of that will play out over time. He might not have the potential to be a number-1 in the NHL future like his new teammate Cale Makar, but he will be a very solid second-pairing player that will contribute on the second powerplay unit.
This season, Timmins will go back to The Soo where he will look to continue his progression as a player. Fans should expect him to be one of the elite players in the OHL and with any luck, see him representing Canada at the World Juniors next September.
With the graduation of Tyson Jost and Mikko Rantanen, the system isn’t necessarily filled with prospects worth keeping a close eye on - Conor Timmins is definitely one that Avs fans will soon get excited about.
Finalist #2: Conor Timmins pic.twitter.com/mN3JRrHQMf— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 28, 2017