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It’s time for Trevor Timmins to shine

After a few lean years, and questionable development, the Canadiens prospect pipeline is pumping.

Scott Matla / Eyes On The Prize

There are two moments clear in my mind when I think of Trevor Timmins. The first one is his utterly disappointed tone in his interview following the trade of two second round picks in the 2016 for Andrew Shaw. The other one was how visibly upset he was when Marc Bergevin decided to trade down in the Canadiens video of the 2018 draft. That last one worked out - they drafted Cam Hillis with their next pick anyway.

But what this makes clear is one thing: Timmins loves the draft passionately. He describes it as a second Christmas, and to extend the metaphor that would make him Santa Claus since he delivers.

There are misses, to be sure, throughout his history with the Canadiens but in the last few years we are seeing a new era in the prospects brought in and it’s starting to manifest itself at the professional level already.

This upcoming season we will be seeing the first full professional seasons for Josh Brook, Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau, who will be added to a group of sophomores in Jake Evans, Cale Fleury, Lukas Vejdemo, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. That doesn’t include Nick Suzuki, who was acquired in a trade but likely heavily scouted and recommended in trade talks by Timmins.

At a minimum, that is eight prospects added to the organization in just two seasons. Only Kotkaniemi was part of the 11-player class in 2018 and they currently have 10 more picks in the upcoming 2019 draft.

There is real optimism surround the entire Canadiens organization, and much more than just 18 months ago. That’s a testament to many things but it’s especially on Marc Bergevin for keeping draft picks and adding prospects, and it’s on Timmins and his scouting staff to deliver promising prospects.

For many years, the Canadiens AHL affiliate was depending on prospects with limited upside like Brett Lernout, Simon Bourque, Daniel Audette, Dalton Thrower, and Connor Crisp. In a different world, Scott Walford and Jarret Tyszka would have surely received NHL contracts. But with the influx of prospects on the way, and a contract limit hanging overhead, the Canadiens are in a position to be selective. There are so many people eligible for the Top 25 Under 25, we may need to make it a Top 35 to include everyone who garners Top 25 attention.

Will all these players make it? Of course not. The only way to make sure that you have a solid prospect foundation is to have a lot of prospects. In this case, quantity ensures quality. Even if you have the first overall pick every year, it doesn’t guarantee you success (just look at the Edmonton Oilers for proof of that).

Drafting is hard. Even for the very best at it, which Timmins has proven he’s a part of. The best way to ensure success is to give him as many chances to hit the target as possible and for the last few years, he’s had that opportunity and it is already showing it’s value at the professional level. If your success rate is 50%, 50% of 10 or 11 is a lot better than 50% of 4-6.

The team has also changed the way they evaluate prospects. With this being the second year of draft combines in both Europe and Montreal to focus on prospects who didn’t get the call for the NHL combine, it just gives you more information and makes your evaluation even better. If not for the off-ice drills themselves but just meeting and talking to the prospects.

It’s proven its worth in just one year, and may revolutionize the way teams look at prospect evaluation themselves.

And the most encouraging part is that when these prospects hit the Rocket in Laval, they’ll be surrounded by a coaching staff that looks like it is also turning over a new leaf in terms of development.

There may still be days where Timmins is disappointed and as the team jumps into contention, they may trade some prospects and draft picks. But the foundation is being set, and it’s a new era for the Canadiens organization.