When right-shot defenseman Conor Timmins was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was an unknown. The team was desperate for help on its injury-depleted defence and Timmins was available.
Although I can’t know for certain whether the Maple Leafs had visions of Timmins turning into a player who would stay with the team long-term, he’s certainly shown that he can produce on the blue line. Sure he makes mistakes – as young defensemen (and older defensemen as well) do. But he’s young. He’s barely played any NHL games. He can learn and gain experience.
Despite His Lack of Experience, Timmins Has Played Well
With the Coyotes, Timmins had been injured frequently. The Coyotes were hoping to send him down to the minors to help him build up his game. But were fearful someone would pluck him off waivers. Hence, the trade to the Maple Leafs.
Since he joined the Maple Leafs, Timmins has performed well. Rust and lack of experience have shown up every once in a while, but in the 17 games he’s played on the team’s defence, he has collected 12 points. One was his first NHL goal.
Who expected that kind of production?
Timmins has been averaging 16 minutes or TOI per game. He simply looks settled and fits well with the team. Gosh sake, he’s only 24 years of age – a youngster. But he’s also like found money for the team, who desperately needs found money given its salary-cap situation.
The Maple Leafs Are Looking to Extend Timmins, and Soon
Timmins has played so well with the Maple Leafs that the team is seeking to extend his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. So says TSN’s Insider Trading Chris Johnston. Timmins is currently on a two-year contract with a salary cap hit of $850,000. He would require a qualifying offer of $997,500 for the Maple Leafs to retain his rights.
Because Timmins has missed so many games with his injuries, he’s not eligible for arbitration this summer. The Maple Leafs hold the leverage, which makes extending his contract highly probable.
Extending Timmins Is a Win-Win for the Maple Leafs
How can Timmins not be loving his time with his new team? Growing up in St. Catherines, he’s close to home. He’s playing lots, compared to what his NHL experiences have been. He’s with a winning team. He has a chance to go on an extended Stanley Cup run.
I have to think that Timmins will sign a contract extension sooner rather than later. If Timmins and the Maple Leafs can come to an agreement – and how hard can that be – both player and team benefit. The Maple Leafs can provide Timmins with multi-year security. In return, the team can sign him to a longer-term contract with a reasonable salary cap hit over the rest of his RFA years.
What If the Maple Leafs See Timmins as a Core Player?
If the Maple Leafs view Timmins as a core player who would become part of the team in the longer term, it could even extend his contract further into the future. At this point, considering the level of production Timmins has already shown, there might be such a temptation.
The question is, does the organization believe Timmins will remain a consistent player for the team? Whichever way this is played, it would seem Timmins is in line for a continuing Maple Leafs’ pay cheque into his future.
I for one believe that’s a good idea. How can Maple Leafs’ fans be unhappy about that?