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 Pittsburgh will be his tenth as the mastermind behind the Habs selections so let’s look back and see how he has done.
Over the past four drafts it seems as if Montreal’s cupboards have been stocked full of great prospects. Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Louis Leblanc 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 Darren Dietz, Mac Bennett, Brendan Gallagher, Morgan Ellis and Danny Kristo. As good as these past four drafts look, with the exception of Leblanc, all of these players are yet to turn pro so it is a little early to praise Timmins for such picks. That said, we are going to focus on the first six drafts that Timmins took part in as a member of Les Habitons.
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. However, Kostitsyn was a good player as a Hab and remains a solid NHLer to this day. Timmins could have done better but he could have done worse. The two New York teams picked shortly after Kostitsyn was chosen 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 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 similar to the one that set off the chain of reaction of injuries suffered by Markov, set Chipchura back and he was eventually dealt for a 4th round pick. Again, a first round pick that is no all star, but has settled in nicely in Phoenix, has already played over two hundred games and has a role with them going forward. With Montreal’s next pick, Timmins went with Alexei Emelin who finally left Russia to join Montreal last season and plays a hard nosed style that will see him play many more games in a Habs sweater. A fifth round pick was used on Mikhail Grabovski who was given up on a little too quickly and is now the best center on the hated Toronto Maple Leafs and 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 as 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 4th line 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 should be 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 so many late rounders that are NHLers. Subban in the 2nd round, Emelin in the 3rd, Grabovski in the 5th and D’Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn, Streit and Halak even later. It is not Timmins fault that management later decided to move most of his late round steals for little to no return.
Timmins seems to have cleaned up his first round record with his last three choices, Beaulieu, Tinordi and Leblanc but it is too early to tell if they will pan out as expected.
Picking third overall, hopefully Timmins can find a future star much like he did the last time he had a top 5 selection, when he chose Price 5th overall. If history tells us anything however, it is to keep an eye on who the Habs select on the second day of the draft, as there is likely to be a great future Hab chosen in the 5th round or beyond.