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Twitter Tuesday: A Conor Timmins call-up snub, organizational special teams struggles, and Akim Aliu

Who would win: Two horse-sized Nathan MacKinnons or 100 duck-sized MacKinnons? These are the important questions

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The question that dominated this week’s Twitter Tuesday mailbag seemed to focus around a passing comment that head coach Jared Bednar made after practice on Sunday about Conor Timmins and how he’s not the best defenseman on the Colorado Eagles right now:

This seemed to spark some mild outrage among prospect pundits and fans alike, who treat Timmins with a maternal fervor that one might expect from the likes of Mando and Baby Yoda.

I shared my thoughts on Bednar’s comments on my Twitter yesterday. I, too, respectfully disagree with coach on this one.

I’m really not sure I’ve seen Timmins struggle with too much. He leads the team D-men in assists and is second on the club in that regard; he’s scored the second-most goals among his D partners and his plus/minus ranks No. 2 as well. He sits fifth on the team with 13 points, despite playing a few games less than most of his teammates above him.

The only glaring issue I see, at least statistically, is his penalty minutes. He’s second among Eagles defensemen with 20 PIMs through 22 games, often times taking poor defensive zone penalties. Unfortunately, the AHL is awful at tracking stats aside from the obvious ones, i.e., goals, assists, plus/minus, etc. There is no service that tracks a player’s ice time, and there’s certainly no advanced stats provided either. You won’t find Corsi or Fenwick or any of those fancy statistics being tracked for AHL players. So the only gauge for how a player’s doing is the simple eye test. For me, Timmins passes that.

While it’s not “way off base” of you to speculate that the Avs want to keep Timmins in the AHL for the year to protect him from the 2021 Seattle expansion draft, it is incorrect.

Timmins will be exempt from the expansion draft because he would still be considered “a first- or second-year skater,” of whom are not eligible for said draft per the expansion rules, since he didn’t play last year.

His not getting called up also has to do with the fact that the call-up realistically won’t be playing for the Avalanche. It’s purely precautionary. Lindholm gets the honor of being Bednar’s recall, however, he’ll be keeping warm in the press box while guys like Erik Johnson and Cale Makar get healthy. Remember, the Avs still have Calle Rosen ready to go in Denver. He slots in before Lindholm does anyway. For now, it’s Rosen and Mark Barberio as your third pair, with Lindholm the healthy-scratch seventh defenseman.

Speaking of scratched defenseman...

Well he didn’t make the two-game road trip, which started Monday against the defending Stanley Cup champs in St. Louis. He’s still skating in a non-contact jersey in practice. He was moved to an IR designation on Saturday, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s suffered a setback of any sort — so don’t really worry about that scary IR tag. That’s more to free up a roster spot, thus, Anton Lindholm’s call-up.

It doesn’t appear to be serious by any means, and there was a chance he was going to play on Monday, before it was announced on Sunday he wouldn’t make that trip. It’s possible he could play Thursday, when the Avs return to Pepsi Center to face the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s an even better chance he plays Saturday against Chicago.

I’m just not sure Girard has the body-type to be called “The Marshal.” I’d imagine to get a moniker like that, you have to be more of a grizzled veteran who’s a little rougher around the edges. That nickname is probably not going to a guy that owns a goldendoodle and stands 5-foot-10, 160. I’d say someone like Ian Cole or Erik Johnson definitely earns a name like that, though.

The simple “G” suits the 21 year old better, I’d say.

Editor’s Note: Tom here, I tried to get this off the ground shortly after the Avalanche traded for Samuel Girard. The nickname “The Marshal” comes from the classic movie The Fugitive in which the great Tommy Lee Jones played a US Marshal named Samuel Girard. I’ve heard a few different play by play analysts mention it on road games but so far there has been no traction. As James noted in his question, it’s the perfect name for a defender. Maybe it’s time we try to get it going again.

Special teams struggles are nothing new for Colorado, at least for the Eagles.

Last season, the Eagles finished dead-last in the AHL on the power play, finishing the season with a 13.8 percent success rate. So far this season, roughly a third of the way through the year, Colorado sits 29th out of 31 teams on the man advantage (11 percent) and have scored the second-fewest power play goals with 11.

The penalty kill has gone over a little better for Colorado, however. Last year, the Eagles finished sixth in the American League with an 84.1 percent kill rate. This season, so far, Colorado sits 20th. Also of note, the Eagles tallied the second-most short-handed goals last year with 16, and are third in their division so far this season in that respect.

As far as the NHL side of things go, the Avalanche are middle of the pack in special teams, sitting 15th and 20th in power play and PK, respectively. Last season, the PP finished at a solid seventh in the league, while the PK was the opposite (25th).

I know the Eagles practice special teams quite a bit, devoting a good portion of practices to the power play. I see it all the time. The puck luck just isn’t there yet. And maybe it’s the personnel, as well? Maybe Blake Comeau was the key to a good penalty kill, I don't know. When he was head-manning the Avs PK in 2017-18, the team finished with the fourth-best kill percentage. Then he went to Dallas in 2018-19 and the Stars went from 14th-ranked penalty kill to a fifth-ranked PK last year and sit with the third-stingiest kill this season.

So to answer your question, trade back for Comeau?

Great question. The NHL, after all, is a game of size and speed. Could you imagine two half-ton Nathan MacKinnons trotting up and down the ice? You could probably win the Cup with just two horse-sized MacKs. I’d pick the two horse MacKs to win.

Besides, 100 duck-sized Nathan MacKinnons would be a penalty for too many men on the ice. Or, rather, it’d be too many ducks on the ice ;)

Understandably, the organization wants to keep the Akim Aliu situation at bay as best they can. It’s an ultra-sensitive sore topic that has hurt a former player in an extremely negative way. Coverage on the topic is obviously hard to do when the team is told to make no comment. I tried my best to get more details.

I attended Eagles practice last week, a day after the Wall Street Journal expose on the Eagles-Aliu situation came out. As expected, the Eagles provided no comment, and I was told they were not allowed to comment, as there is a lawyer involved. An Eagles staffer provided me the contact information for Tony Deynzer’s legal representation, Mike Plachy, to whom I reached out to and was granted a phone call with.

The call was off-the-record and was about three minutes of explanation on where the situation stands and Deynzer’s plan of action. I was told by Plachy the Colorado Eagles CEO Martin Lind “couldn’t believe this happened” and was quote-unquote “pissed” about it. Deynzer has not been fired yet and has instead been put on leave as the organization is currently investigating the happenings.

I was told on-the-record that Deyzner has an apology ready and is currently working on meeting with Aliu in person, as he would like to deliver his apology face-to-face. There is no timetable for how long the investigation might take and the team’s decision on what to do with their longtime head equipment manager.

More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter anytime @0ffScottFree. See you next Tuesday!