The Colorado Avalanche selected Conor Timmins in the second round, 32nd overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Hampered by a series of injuries – two that have caused him to miss entire seasons – as a young player, he has not yet shown his level of potential in his NHL career.
However, Timmins hit the ice skating when he’s come to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Throughout his brief time with the Maple Leafs, he’s shown surprising offensive acumen and solid-enough defence.
Is Timmins the Real Deal?
What are the chances that his success thus far is the real deal? And, if it is, what impact does that have on the Maple Leafs’ trade deadline options and plans? Specifically, should the Maple Leafs go after a big trade on the backend?
Here’s saying that it’s time to put any trade deadline rentals to bed. Sure, the Maple Leafs should make any trades that will help the team over the long run, but a panic trade deadline deal? It isn’t needed.
Timmins Was More than the Team Might Have Expected
The week was a big one for Timmins. He scored the first NHL goal of his career in a Maple Leafs 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. It came after playing 53 career games. Timmins’ goal pushed his point total to 11 (one goal and 10 points) in 14 games on the season.
That’s far more points than anyone had expected from the young defenseman. When he first came to the team, it was because the blue line was under siege from injuries. The thought was that, if Timmins could stay the tide, he’d have been a good pickup.
Timmins Is a Secondary-Assist Guru
But he’s done far more than that. Timmins has proven to be a steady and reliable blue liner. He makes short crisp passes to help move the puck out of the defensive zone quickly; and, as a result, at times (up to 10 or so specifically) he’s had the “hockey assist” (the secondary assist) that’s resulted in a Maple Leafs’ breakout.
Some hockey pundits might disparage hockey’s secondary assist, but not me. And watching Timmins suggests a good reason why the hockey assist is important to the speed and the dynamic nature of this beautiful game.
Timmins is the player who sees up the ice and searches for possibilities. He wants to make things happen. When he sees potential, he then starts a play quickly enough to take advantage of an opponent’s defence that’s suddenly on its heels and in scramble mode.
Timmins seems good at that. He fuels the team’s quick-strike mentality.
Time to Move on From the Chychrun Bandwagon
Interestingly, Timmins had been a healthy scratch in the Maple Leafs’ previous three games and drew into the lineup simply because TJ Brodie was injured. Now it looks like, because Brodie is out for a while, we will see Timmins more regularly. We will see if Timmins can sustain his offence – while, at the same time, playing solid defence.
Even with Brodie out, this is one season I hope the Maple Leafs play the hand with the cards they’ve been dealt or have drawn. Timmins is found money and it’s time the Maple Leafs tuck him into their 2022-23 wallet.
It’s Tough to Imagine the Maple Leafs Not Playing Timmins Regularly
It’s hard to see how the Maple Leafs won’t begin to play Timmins on a more full-time basis. His addition helps solve the defensive issues. I, for one, think the Maple Leafs don’t need to look for the homerun as a trade deadline rental by giving up a solid player like Pierre Engvall or Alex Kerfoot.
As I noted, I think it’s time to appreciate what’s been built here and let another team get all gooey-eyed about Chychrun. Chychrun is probably a good player and would likely improve the team’s defensive corps. However, to bring him onto the roster, sacrifices would have to be made. This is not a time those are needed.
If Players Stay Healthy, This Might Be the Season
If everyone stays healthy, the Maple Leafs have a solid-enough team to win the Stanley Cup. Whether they will is another matter, but they have the talent.
And Conor Timmins is a part of that talent. He was a good trade for the team. I hope he stays around after this season, and I hope he continues to develop in the way that he’s trending.