Trevor Timmins took over as Montreal’s Director of Player Development at the beginning of the 2002-03 season. His main responsibility is drafting and of course developing the next wave of Montreal Canadiens. The most important piece of business for Timmins to take care of every year is the NHL Draft. The upcoming draft in New Jersey will be his eleventh as the mastermind behind the Habs selections, so let’s look back and see how he has done.
Over the past five drafts it seems as if Montreal’s cupboards have been stocked full of great prospects. Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi look like sure bets to join the Habs in the near future and leave a lasting impression. Adding to these are a solid group of prospects including Sebastien Collberg, Darren Dietz, Louis Leblanc, Morgan Ellis, Gabriel Dumont and Danny Kristo.
The only players selected in the past five years to become regular NHLers so far are Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. These players are all still very young, and the aforementioned prospects could pan out and make Timmins look like a genius, but we will focus on his first six drafts to see how his selections developed.
Timmins first draft was in 2003 and his first choice to join the Canadiens was Andrei Kostitsyn. He took a bit of a risk on draft day 2003 as Kostitsyn was labeled one of the most talented players in the class but had suffered a seizure during the season, which had many teams avoiding him altogether. The 2003 draft was one of the strongest of all time and there were many better options available when Kostitsyn was picked.
Timmins could have done better but he could have done worse. The two New York teams picked shortly after Montreal and elected to take Hugh Jessiman and Robert Nilsson. In the following rounds Timmins would grab future NHLers Maxim Lapierre and Ryan O’Byrne. Certainly not all star caliber players but three NHL players in three rounds is a pretty solid draft. He did not stop there however and took Jaro Halak with the 271st pick in the 9th round. This is an NHL executive’s equivalent of hitting the jackpot.
In the 2004 draft Timmins went with Kyle Chipchura in the first round. Known more for his defensive play and leadership abilities, Chipchura never jumped out at you as a typical first round pick, but he did look like a future third line center who could kill penalties and brought many intangibles. Hardly known as a great skater to begin with, an Achilles injury set Chipchura back and he was eventually dealt for a 4thround pick.
Again, a first round pick that is no all star, but has already played over two hundred games. With Montreal’s next pick, Timmins went with Alexei Emelin who finally left Russia to join Montreal for the 2011-12 season. Emelin plays a hard nosed style that was desperately missed by the Habs last season after he suffered a season ending knee injury. A fifth round pick was used on Mikhail Grabovski who has been better than most fifth rounders but inconsistent. Another 9th round gem was found when Montreal drafted Mark Streit.
Unfortunately for Timmins, starting in 2005, there would only be 7 rounds in the draft each year. Fortunately for Habs fans, Timmins decided to mine his gold immediately. He grabbed Carey Price with the 5th overall pick, against all media cries to take the big center that was available, Gilbert Brule.
The Habs second rounder was used on Guillaume Latendresse, who had far too high of expectations playing in his own backyard and was sent to Minnesota. Later in the draft, Timmins selected future NHLers Matt D’Agostini in the 6th round and Sergei Kostitsyn in the 7th. Two more impressive late round picks to add to Timmins resume.
The 2006 draft was one to forget for Timmins. David Fischer was taken in the 1st round, Ben Maxwell and Mathieu Carle in the 2nd and Ryan White in the third. There would be no late round steals in 2006 to make up for it either. White will start next season on the Habs 4thline and is the only NHLer of the entire group.
Timmins had two first round picks to work with in 2007 and did not disappoint. The first was used on Ryan McDonagh, who could have been a cornerstone on Montreal’s blueline, and the second was used on Max Pacioretty. Adding to these two he grabbed P.K. Subban in the second round and would later select Yannick Weber in the third round.
Adding two major pieces of Montreal’s future and one more who could have been if Gomez was not brought in is as good as it gets at the draft. There would be no late round gems in 2007 but already having selected McDonagh, Subban and Pacioretty was more than enough to consider this draft a huge success.
Aside from falling asleep at the wheel in the 2006 draft, Timmins has a very impressive draft record since joining the Habs. His first round picks have been hit or miss, with Pacioretty, McDonagh and Price being major hits, Kostitsyn not quite filling his potential and Chipchura and Fischer never coming close to their billing as a first round pick.
He more than made up for a spotty first round record by grabbing many NHLers in the later rounds. Subban in the 2nd round, Emelin in the 3rd, Gallagher in the 5thand D’Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn, Streit and Halak even later. It is no coincidence that Timmins has been able to find future NHL talent year after year.
Timmins seems to have cleaned up his first round record with his last three choices. Beaulieu, Tinordi and Galchenyuk, all appear to be future organizational building blocks.
Canadiens fans should feel very comfortable with Timmins at the draft wheel. He has missed on a few early picks but seems to have sorted out any first round jitters.
If history tells us anything however, it is to keep an eye on who the Habs select in the late rounds of the draft, as there is likely to be a great future Hab chosen in the 5th round or beyond.