When the Colorado Avalanche selected Conor Timmins of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, OHL fans knew they were getting a steal. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Avalanche selected a right-handed defenseman that probably should have been picked closer to 20th overall. Timmins was a player many onlookers expected might fall because he doesn’t necessarily “look good” on the ice. He doesn’t wow scouts with his natural ability - he just plays really good hockey.
Conor Timmins isn’t elite at any one aspect of the game, but he is great at just about all of them.
Fans outside of The Soo got to see that on display at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship. Timmins was Canada’s best defender and was a big reason why they came away with the gold medal. Not one of the big names coming into the tournament, Timmins quietly became the most dependable player on Canada’s blueline. He was on the first penalty kill unit and was asked to contribute to the second PP group. His minutes grew as the tournament went on and while it was Cale Makar that got the headlines because of his point total, Timmins was the Avalanche prospect that was the most impressive.
Back in the OHL, things didn’t go as smoothly. Timmins was having another great season, but then was forced to miss a ton of time with a lower-body injury. After being back from the World Juniors for only two games, Timmins sprained his ankle and lost the next eight weeks of his season. He made it back for the final two weeks of the regular season, but he didn’t look like he was fully up to speed. That said he still ended up with six points in those final six games.
As the playoffs began, Timmins was able to work his way back to full strength. The Greyhounds had a first round matchup with the Saginaw Spirit - which was as close to a bye as you could get. Timmins put up six points in the four game sweep and used the series to show he was back to being the team’s most important defenseman.
It was a good thing he had four games to work with, because things got a lot tougher beyond the first round. Owen Sound pushed the Greyhounds to their limit in the conference semi-final. The Attack are a fast-moving high-event team that forced the Soo out of their comfort zone and forced Conor Timmins to shut down one of the most offensively talented gifted lines in the OHL. Timmins and the Hounds advanced to the conference final, but not until they played in one of the most absurd Game 7s you’ll ever see. Sault Ste Marie won 9-7 in a game that saw eight goals scored in the third period.
On to the Western Conference Final where the Greyhounds met the surprising Kitchener Rangers. Timmins had a huge impact right away as he scored the winning goal in Game 1 with no time left on the clock.
In case the ridiculous Game 7 from the prior series wasn’t stressful enough, The Soo needed double-over time in game seven of this Conference Final to put away the Rangers - with none other than Conor Timmins assisting on the series clinching goal.
Now, the Soo Greyhounds are in the OHL Final for the first time in 25 years - and it’s an Avalanche prospect that is leading the way. Timmins has 15 points through 18 playoff games, but more importantly, he is playing alongside rookie Rasmus Sandin as the big-minute shutdown pair. Timmins is on the on the ice more than anyone as coach Jeff Bannister trusts him in every situation, from top powerplay unit to holding on to a one goal lead in the final minute of a game.
With his new entry-level contract, Timmins will likely start next season as a key part of the Colorado Eagles, as they jump to the AHL - though some believe he has a chance of cracking the NHL next fall.
For the past two seasons, Connor Timmins has been the best defenseman in the OHL. Now his junior career is coming to an end. He’s got at least four more games left with the Greyhounds, but he’s hoping to extend it a little further.
Joe Thornton couldn’t do it, Jeff Carter couldn’t do it, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Muzzin Couldn’t do it. Conor Timmins is trying to get his Soo Greyhounds to Memorial Cup for the first time since 1993. He’s only got a handful of games left before he turns his hockey career over to the Colorado Avalanche organization, for now Avalanche fans should be cheering along as Timmins fights his way towards Junior hockey’s biggest prize.