Yesterday had to be a big day for NHL defenseman Conor Timmins. It was his first practice with his new Toronto Maple Leafs’ team and teammates. Timmons was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Maple Leafs for the ever-interesting (and very tall) Curtis Douglas. 

The truth is that Timmins’ first job with the Maple Leafs is to cover some of the team’s wounds on the blue line. Right now, he’s a right-shot player, who can provide immediate help. The immediate trumps the future with this 24-year-old from nearby St. Catherines. 

Conor Timmins, now with the Maple Leafs

That said, there was once a thought that Timmins would turn into a solid NHL defenseman. That’s why the Colorado Avalanche chose him as the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. But the injury gods have been less than kind to the youngster. And, his potential has not yet been realized.


Timmins’ Arrival Begs Two Questions

There are two questions to address regarding Timmins’ arrival. First, how will he do in the short term? Second, after this short term, does he have a future with the team? And, how high can he rise on the ladder of potential if he does have a future?

Right now, Timmins is healthy. He’s been recovering from an upper-body injury and has been engaging in a conditioning stint with the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate Tuscon Roadrunners. Although he’s physically ready for game action, the Maple Leafs have decided not to start him against the Minnesota Wild today. Instead, Victor Mete will be in the lineup partnering with Mac Hollowell on the team’s third pairing. 

Friedman and Marek Believe the Coyotes Did Timmins a Huge Favor

In their 32 Thoughts Podcast yesterday, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman joined the Jeff Marek Show to discuss the Maple Leafs and Coyotes trade and to talk about how the Coyotes did defenceman Timmins “a bit of a favour” by trading him to the Maple Leafs. Their take is that, because injuries have piled up and Toronto is in dire need of defensemen, this is as good a chance as Timmins will have to put his career back on track.

As Friedman and Marek discuss in the video, the trade was no surprise. It had been in the works for a while. Friedman knew that Timmons was available but also believed that Timmons would not have cleared waivers. This meant that the Coyotes would lose him for nothing.

As well, Friedman believed the Coyotes did themselves a favour by getting a player in return but also did Timmins a favour by moving him close to home in Toronto. Friedman believed (a) Timmins wanted to come to Toronto and (b) Toronto needed him because of all the blue-line injuries. 

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Simmonds, Murray & Giordano

The upside for Toronto is that Timmins’ salary-cap numbers are not big enough to be a cap-space problem. There was also that ever-present Soo Greyhounds’ connection that head coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Kyle Dubas seem to prize so much. Both knew Timmins and believe in his potential.

The bottom line is that Timmins will get a chance to play because the Maple Leafs are so shorthanded. As well, both Friedman and Marek believe that “nobody doubts his (Timmins) talent.” He has to stay healthy and he’s going to get a chance to play. 

If Timmins Can Stay Healthy, What’s Next?

It’s ironic that Timmins is coming to Toronto to help them survive their injuries, while at the same time his own injuries have prevented him from reaching his early potential. Thus far, Timmins has only been able to play 41 NHL games. 

He could play that many this season. The jury is obviously out about how well he’ll do. However, if he can play well, there’s a chance he’ll be able to join the Maple Leafs’ roster for the long term. Stranger things have happened. The truth is that he really isn’t much of a gamble by the Maple Leafs.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Simmonds, Timmins, Benn & Gio

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