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Photo Credit: Dhiren Mahiban/The Canadian Press

Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profiles: #39 – Conor Timmins

Conor Timmins may be a bit late on the list here, and a lot of that may be my own fault. I will admit that in retrospect I ranked him way too late, skewing the average. Ironically, I will now be the one to guide you through our profile of the 6’1, right-shot defender.

Timmins carries a lot of value; he has that deadly combination of physicality, mobility, first-pass, and offensive instinct. He started the season as an after thought in the draft, ranked late by most third-party scouting departments, but has rocked up to late first round – early second round for most services.

A team likely picks up Timmins in the mid-second but he would be no reach as a late first round selection. We ranked Timmins 39th overall in the Nation Network’s Prospect Profile series.

Bio:

  • Age: 18-years-old, 1998-09-18
  • Birthplace: Thorold, ON, CAN
  • Position: RD
  • Handedness: Right
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 181 lbs
  • Draft Year Team: Soo Greyhounds – OHL

Stats:

pGPS S pGPS N pGPS % pGPS P/82 pGPS R
73 35 49.2% 32.9 16.2

Read about pGPS here.

Scouts:

NHL (CSS) FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS HOCKEYPROSPECT MCKENZIE MCKEEN’S
 
NHL CS (NA) BUTTON ISS
36 (NA) 36 44 19 23 18 25  28

Kevin Wickersham – Dobber’s Prospects:

The cerebral, poised Timmins plays an impressive two-way game featuring sharp intuition and vision that contribute to his skilled passing and playmaking. A great puck-mover and mobile skater that excels at quarterbacking the power play. He took great offensive strides last year with OHL Sault Ste. Marie, finishing with seven goals and 54 assists in 67 contests, far exceeding his previous 13-point campaign. He could add more muscle to beef up his already aggressive defensive game.

Timmins can look like a rather boring player and isn’t going to excite a lay observer. However, his hockey sense drives a ton of value to his game. He doesn’t have “wow”-caliber skating or puck skills, but he’s one of the smartest defensemen in the CHL. Timmins is a very effective puck mover with top-level vision. You rarely see him cough up the puck, and he’s so effective at quickly relieving pressure and making a good play with the puck. Defensively, he’s solid because of his IQ and the way he battles to win pucks, though he needs to continue to bulk up.

Timmins is a very smart defenseman; he has good vision and good offensive instincts. He can read the play well, and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in the transition game. I like his poise under pressure, something I feel extremely important in a young defenseman.

Our Take:

Before I start giving our take, I wanted to give myself a quick introduction. Not everyone here will know who I am. Hello, my name is Garret Hohl, AKA Garreth of the OHL. I used to manage the Jets Nation site, and I’m the co-founder of the statistical blog Hockey-Graphs.

Some of you may recognize me for a few different reasons: I ran a podcast with former CA manager Rhys Jessop, I co-produced the 2017 Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference with Josh Weissbock and the Vancouver Canucks, and I worked a tiny bit (far less than the other members) in the development that ultimately led to the PCS system.

I’m retiring from the fan blogs early July and the Canucks Army crew has been kind enough to let me join them for their prospect series before I walk off into the sunset.

As some of you know, I co-found and help run a tracking company called HockeyData. One of the things we do is track prospect data for teams. I want to put a disclaimer that I intentionally avoided looking up my company’s data for this series, since I can’t give the milk away for free when others are already paying for the cows. That said, prospects was my first love and what got me started writing about hockey, so I have watched a bit of the game and have my own two cents to give.

The one commonality in every profile on Timmins is hockey IQ, smarts, or cerebral player. Timmins won’t wow you with raw tools that makes you scream elite but he is easily one of the smartest defenders eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He is a decently mobile defender and not lacking in either physicality or size, but his brain is easily his best asset.

His high intelligence leads to minimal mistakes and he is one of best zone exit defenders (again: from my eye-test, not my company’s numbers) in the CHL. Timmins gets the puck out of the defensive zone fast, often, efficiently, and rarely with any mistake or unnecessary hesitation.

Timmins’ production grew leaps and bounds in his 2016-2017 campaign. The right-shot defender put up a 0.91 point per game pace and 0.66 5-on-5 point per game pace, easily making him one of the best point producing defenders in this year’s draft. Timmins scored more at 5-on-5 than draft class compatriot Nicolas Hague despite lower level QoT and higher level QoC.

The defender put up an impressive relative 5-on-5 goal share, despite moving up to the Greyhounds top pair.

Obviously with impressive numbers comes a solid pGPS:

Timmins is a fairly safe player with a lot of NHL cohorts, and some of his lower GP cohorts are guaranteed to move into the 200+ games played range in time (such as Calvin de Haan).

There is quite of range of talent, from Todd Gill or Tim Gleason, to P.K. Subban and Drew Doughty. Using statistical cohorts to compare prospects at 17 and project future is still very much an inexact science but it lends some evidence to realistic ideas of ceiling, floor, and safety.

One way we can add some more certainty is look into how comparable Timmins’ draft eligible season is to his comparisons:

The more similar the NHL skater was to Timmins’ 2016-2017 campaign, the further along they reside on the x-axis. This means the graph suggests those on the bottom right are the most likely NHL projections for Timmins, provided he actually makes the NHL.

Looking further we see that the bulk of Timmins cohorts are second pairing defenders. This would be solid value to garner out of a late first or early second round draft selection.

So, why isn’t a high-scoring, smart, puck-moving defender not projected as either safer or higher than we or pGPS place him?

The biggest issue is age. Timmins missed the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by 3 days. Age is a huge variable to account for in a prospects development. Scoring at a particular rate as a 17-year-old in junior is worlds apart from putting up the same pace at 20-years-old. Look no further than how many high-scoring overage junior players struggle to play the AHL, let alone the NHL.

Returning to qualitative scouting, the other obvious issue in Timmins’ game is his strength. While 6’1 and 181 pounds puts him near average for a defender in the NHL (an average that is dropping slightly too!), he still could use to add some lean body mass and improve his ability to leverage himself against opponents and box out in front of the net.

Timmins is far from a defensive liability, especially with his high intelligence, but that added strength would allow him to succeed in plays that his mind sets him out to do with higher efficiency.

  • jbr

    Garret, I’m sad to hear you are leaving the fan blogging game. I’d say you are the only (online) commentator on the Jets whose opinion is worth taking seriously. AIH has been rather underwhelming since you left (to put it politely), and for me at least there is little of interest to JN if you will no longer be contributing.