Trevor Timmins, The Habs’ Jekyll and Hyde

Trevor Timmins_The Habs’ Jekyll and Hyde

For the majority of Habs fan out there, Trevor Timmins is seen as a saint, a saviour to the organization and is the sole reason the Canadiens have been decent enough to make the playoffs in 8 of the 12 seasons that Timmins has been Director of Amateur Scouting for the Canadiens. Yes, I agree that Timmins has made some decent draft picks during his tenure with the Habs, however with the exception of PK Subban, Max Pacioretty, and Brandan Gallagher (with Carey Price and Alex Galchenyuk being top 5 picks), no other player has yet made an impact as significant as those drafted in later picks by the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks. Comparing Timmins’ selection with those of the Kings since 2002-2003, the Kings have been able to add important core players that have been vital assets on both their championship rosters, through drafting or trading away drafted players for the likes of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter (both were first round picks in 2003).

With their first round selection in 2003, the Kings were able to draft current team captain Dustin Brown. In 2005, they were able to add 2 crucial pieces, first line superstar, Anze Kopitar and former Conn Smythe winner, Jonathan Quick. In corresponding years, they have also been able to add core players like Wayne Simmonds and Braydon Schenn (both were traded for Mike Richards), two-time Gold Medalist Drew Doughty, and key depth players like Trevor Lewis (2006), Dwight King (2007), Alec Martinez (2007), Slava Voynov (2008), Kyle Clifford (2009), Jordan Nolan (2009), Tyler Toffoli (2010), and Tanner Pearson (2012). Comparing that to what Timmins has done, I look back at the first two rounds during Timmins’ first 7 years at the helm, a true testament on whether or not Trevor Timmins could be considered as one of the best scouting directors in the NHL today.

2003
1st Round Pick, (10th Overall) Andrei Kostitsyn
Players that were still available: Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry
2nd Round Pick, (40th Overall) Cory Urquhart
Players that were still available: Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, David Backes

Having joined the Habs in the 2002-2003 season, Trevor Timmins first year on the job was disastrous in terms of who he could have landed. Having the 10th pick, Timmins and his staff decided to swing for the fence on a Belarussian, Andrei Kostitsyn, who was originally projected as a top 5 pick before news of his back injury and epilepsy caused major question marks. Though, Kostitsyn did produce for the Habs (379GP, 99G, 111A, 210PTS), any of the players that were drafted right after him were franchise changing picks. Imagine, Getzlaf or Kesler on the Habs, solidifying the dire need for a big centremen the Habs had been lacking for years (probably dating back to the days of Bobby Smith). Or adding a legit goal scorer like Parise or Perry, finally giving then captain and number 1 centerman Saku Koivu a bonafide sniper on his wing. Drafting Cory Urquhart in the second (one pick before the Bruins selecting Bergeron) speaks for itself. Urquhart never played a game for the Canadiens, in fact he never played a single game in the NHL.

2004
1st Round Pick, (18th Overall) Kyle Chipchura
Players that were still available: Travis Zajac, Mike Green, Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell, David Krejci
No Picks in the 2nd Round.

Touted as a hardnosed 2-way centremen, with potential of what Mike Richards has become, Kyle Chipchura was seen as a future 2nd line centerman with solid size at 6’2. With the leadership qualities that Chipchura could bring to a team, Kyle was also seen as a potential future captain or at least assistant captain for the Habs. However, that was basically it, Chipchura’s ceiling was that of a 2nd line forward, with many projecting him to be a 3rd line checking centremen at best. What Chipchura actually became was a fringe 4th line centerman (in just 68 games with the Habs, Chipchura netted only 4 goals and 10 assists) that was eventually traded to the Ducks for a late round draft pick. Another wasted first round draft pick for the Canadiens and a rough start to Timmins tenure, as his first 2 first round picks have turned into fringe NHL hockey players. While players that were immediately picked after both Kostitsyn and Chipchura, (Carter, Brown, Seabrook, Getzlaf, Richards, Perry, Bolland, Bickell, Krejci) have all became Stanley Cup winners.

Before we continue any further, I think it is important to point out that many, including myself, agree that it is difficult to fully judge Timmins on both the 2003 and 2004 drafts. Fans must remember that this was pre-lockout, during the dead puck era where clutching and grabbing was at an all time high. A player like Kostitsyn or Chipchura, who’s skating attributes were not considered their strong points, may have faired better in an era where their size played a more crucial role than their speed. That said, players like Getzlaf or Perry were still available and would have fitted the dead puck era better.

2005

1st Round Pick, (5th Overall) Carey Price
Players that were still available: Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, TJ Oshie
2nd Round Pick, (45th Overall) Guillaume Latendresse
Players that were still available: Kris Letang, Johnathan Quick, Ben Bishop

It is quite funny that of all of Timmins’ first round draft picks, the selection of now franchise goaltender and Olympic gold medalist Carey Price, was the most controversial and scrutinized pick to date. Many fans and insiders (including then TSN analyst Pierre McGuire) all believed that the Habs, having a top 5 pick for the first time in decades, would finally pick a dynamic forward to continue the tradition left empty after the retirements of Guy Lafleur and Mats Naslund. Many had projected and wanted the Habs to pick the small but highly talented Gilbert Brule (thankfully Timmins did not as Brule is now currently in the KHL), no one could believe in a million years, that with already a recent Vezina Trophy winner in Jose Theodore minding the nets, the Habs and Trevor Timmins would pick Carey Price from the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. It is safe to say, this has been Timmins best selection to date, drafting a franchise goaltender that many around the league consider the best in the business at the moment.

2006
1st Round Pick, (20th Overall) David Fischer
Players that were still available: Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov, Patrik Berglund, Nick Foligno
2nd Round Pick, (49rd Overall) Ben Maxwell
Players that were still available: Milan Lucic, Artem Anisimov, Brad Marchand, Cal Clutterbuck

Like the 2003 draft, the less said of the 2006 draft, the better it would be for fans to forget about this disastrous draft. Originally penciled in to draft 21st, the Habs traded up one selection and selected David Fischer. Off all the players to trade up for and pick, Timmins selected a puck moving defenseman with size that never played a single game in the NHL. Two picks after the Habs had selected the 2005-06 Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, David Fischer, the Flyers selected Claude Giroux with the 22nd pick, a player that grew up idolizing the Habs and then current captain Saku Koivu. To pick Fischer is one thing, but to skip out on a future superstar in your very own backyard (Giroux played for the Gatineau Olympics in the QJMHL) is unforgivable. And I almost forgot, in the 2nd round they picked Ben Maxwell, a fringe AHLer who only managed to play 20 games with the Habs notching up 0 points. And the player that was drafted right after Maxwell? You guessed it, Milan Lucic, a player every Habs fans currently hate, but to think he could have been a Hab from the beginning…

2007
1st Round Pick, (12th Overall) Ryan McDonagh, (22nd Overall) Max Pacioretty
Players that were still available Lars Eller, Kevin Shattenkirk, Riley Nash, David Perron
2nd Round Pick, (43rd Overall) PK Subban
Players that were still available: Wayne Simmonds

If drafting Carey Price in 2005 is considered Timmins’ best selection to date, then the 2007 Entry Draft can be considered Timmins’ best draft as a whole. It is not every day that a Director of Scouting of any NHL franchise is able to land two number 1 defensemen along with a top line winger that can potentially score 40 goals a year. But that was the case in 2007 when Timmins was able to land defensemen Ryan McDonagh and PK Subban, as well as Max Pacioretty with a late first round pick. You must give credit when it’s due, and Timmins had an excellent draft in 2007. Both McDonagh and Subban are now considered top-tier defensemen in the league even at a young age of only 25 (both were even selected to their country’s Olympic team in 2014). While Pacioretty is recently just coming of a career high year of 39 goals and being named to the USA Olympic team. It can be argued that if the draft was redone today, all 3 could very well have gone in the top 5 that year. Looking back, this could have been the draft that could have brought a Stanley Cup down Saint Catherine Street, with a top 3 of Markov, Subban, McDonagh (perhaps the best big 3 since Robinson, Savard, and Lapointe) and Carey Price as the last line of defense. Unfortunately it hasn’t, and the less discussed about the McDonagh for Gomez trade, the less Habs fans will reminisce of what could have become.

2008 No Picks in the First Round

2009
1st Round Pick, (18th Overall) Louis Leblanc
Players that were still available Chris Kreider, John Moore, Jordan Caron, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Clifford, Jakob Silfverberg, Tomas Tartar
No Picks in the 2nd Round.

Yikes, a draft to culminate the centennial season of the Montreal Canadiens, this draft held at the very own Bell Centre, was designed to propel the Habs into the future and the next 100 years of greatness. Whether it was pressured to be drafting in Montreal to select a Quebec native or an error in decision amongst the scouting brass, the final decision was made by Timmins. Drafting Louis Leblanc, or as many fans now would nickname him Louis Lebust over the likes of Chris Kreider or Ryan O’Reilly, marks another dark draft on Timmins’ resume. Habs fans got a firsthand glimpse of how good Chris Kreider can become during the 2014 Eastern Conference finals series between the Habs and the Rangers. The ultra-speedy and big 6’3 Kreider is someone the Habs are currently lacking on their roster (for the past 3 seasons, they have tried Erik Cole, Michael Ryder, Thomas Vanek, and now PA Parenteau on the first line). One could only imagine having 2 speedy goal scoring wingers in Pacioretty and Kreider, flanking a dynamic playmaker like Galchenyuk as a dangerous top line for years to come. But that’s a dream, reality is the Habs and Timmins drafted Louis Leblanc, who notched just 5 goals and 5 assist in only 50 games with the Canadiens before being dealt to the Ducks for a conditional draft pick (turns out the Habs did not get a pick as Leblanc was waived by the Ducks).

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