The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eleven writers and 480 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2019 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
When the Colorado Avalanche selected Conor Timmins 32nd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he instantly became one of the best prospects in the organization. The right-handed defender went on to not only star for Team Canada at the 2018 World Juniors, but he turned in one of the best seasons we’ve seen from an OHL defender in the past decade. Unfortunately, that’s where things took a bad turn.
Finishing off his draft+1 season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Timmins took a huge hit during game five of the OHL finals and hasn’t been seen in game action since.
With lingering post concussion symptoms, Timmins spent last season trying to work his way back to hockey. He spent a lot of time in Denver, but was sent home to rest on more than on occasion. By the end of the season, he was practicing fully with the Avalanche and has now been fully medically cleared by team doctors.
He was able to participate fully in this summer’s development camp and by all accounts is not longer suffering any symptoms from the concussion that nearly cost him his hockey career.
Now it’s time to get back to hockey development. Timmins is good, but he’s not “jump into the NHL after being out of game action for 16 months” good. He will be a big part of one of the most exciting blue lines in the NHL in a couple years, but for now he’s destined for Loveland.
Playing in the AHL for the Eagles this season will give Timmins the opportunity to not only get back into game rhythm, but it will afford him the chance to play in all situations. There’s a good chance he will be the best defender on the team and he has the skill set to play in the top-4 as well as contribute on both the powerplay and penalty kill.
He’s not the fastest skater and won’t wow you with his shot or puck skills, but what sets Conor Timmins apart is the way he thinks the game. His instincts help elevate good talent into great potential.
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 a kid his age. 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.
Timmins is listed at 6’2” and nearly 200lbs, but he doesn’t look overly imposing on the ice. He’s got decent size and strength, though that’s not what he uses to be successful in his own end. It’s his positioning and gap control that gives Timmins the ability to play a shutdown role against the opposition’s best line.
Conor Timmins is going to be a very good NHL defenseman for a long time - probably as early as 2019. This season will be all about developing in a pro system and getting acclimatized to a higher level of competition. If the AHL coaching staff is doing their job properly, Timmins will play a huge role with the Eagles this season - getting a lot of ice time and playing on both the powerplay and penalty kill.
Give him a year to develop and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Timmins start the 2020-21 season as a key part of the Avalanche blue line.