Demystifying the Work of Trevor Timmins

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The amateur draft is not a perfect science and professional teams know that better than anyone. Everyone can determine where a prospect is at a given time simply by scouting and looking at numbers but you see, that’s not what scouting is all about. No matter how many games scouts watch, no matter how much expertise they have on their scouting teams, no matter what the numbers certain players are putting up today, the fact remains that they are all trying to project how much young players will develop over a certain period of time.

However, it seems like some fans think that it’s easier than it really is. Some go as far as following prospects and play their mini Bob McKenzies prior and during the annual NHL event by having their own Mock Drafts, even going as far as criticising the professionals in that domain. At times, they will come back a few years later pointing that they were right way back when, but never will they do the same the umpteen times that they were wrong. Yet, NHL teams’ scouting records will always be for all to see, even years later.

But before going any further and look at all 30 teams’ track records when it comes to amateur drafts, let’s hear what Montreal Canadiens’ Vice President of player personnel Trevor Timmins, whose role is to oversee the Canadiens’ amateur scouting system, including the annual NHL Entry Draft and amateur free-agent recruitment, as well as overseeing the team’s amateur scouting staff, covering Canada, the United States and Europe.

As Timmins joined the Canadiens’ organisation back in the summer of 2003, this is when we well start our research to help determine exactly where he stands and why General Manager Marc Bergevin thinks so highly of his employee. However, we will only be focusing on one aspect of his role: drafting amateur prospects.

For starter, let’s state that Mr. Timmins has drafted a combined total of 99 amateur players from 2003 to 2016 inclusively. Those players have played a combined total of just under 8,500 games in the NHL. Okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but where does that rank him in comparison to his peers, will you ask? Let’s break it down.

First and foremost, let’s say that it’s not fair to have the Winnipeg Jets in these discussions. They only started drafting back in 2011 and it takes a long time to see the results of drafts. It’s also not a fair comparative when it comes to games played. of course. Also, let’s not forget that like any statistic, no matter what advanced stats people want you to believe, no statistic tells the whole story. Last but not least, we calculated the games played even after a player was traded to another organisation as we’re not judging the GMs’ jobs, but rather the draft history of those teams.

Since 2003, here is a chart showing how many first round selections a team has made, then second round and third round. Because the number of rounds has changed over the years, I have combined picks from the fourth round and later all together, as historically, fewer players from those rounds make it to the NHL. Without further due, here are the numbers.

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Number of players selected broken down by round for each NHL team (2003-2016)

I think that we can all agree that the more players you draft, the better are your chances at seeing some of them break into the league but as you can see, the Canadiens are in the bottom half of the NHL since 2003 and in total, only five teams (6 if you include Winnipeg) have drafted less often than Trevor Timmins. That’s the first point of reference when it comes to how many players should make it to the NHL, comparatively speaking in relation to all other NHL teams.

Another reference point for any NHL team is the number of players drafted have made it to the NHL. Here are the total number of players who have played in the NHL.

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Number of players making NHL (2003-2016)

Just looking at the number of players reaching a sniff at the NHL isn’t fair as not all teams have had the same number of picks, as we’ve seen before. So let’s look at the percentage representing the number of players with NHL experience over the number of players drafted by each team. Those players were, at one point or another, worth enough to get a look at the NHL.

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% of players drafted playing in NHL (2003-2016)

That is all fine and dandy, but these numbers include players who have made a career in the NHL as well as those who have only played a handful of games (or less). Let’s look at another chart, this time at the number of NHL games played in total but the players drafted by each team.

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Total number of games played (2003-2016)

It looks like the Canadiens have drafted players who have actually made an NHL career in comparison to other teams, doesn’t it? But finally, for a more complete assessment of the work done by each team, let’s take the average of the number of games played by the players drafted by each team, divided by the number of draft picks they have taken overall.

gpperdp
Games played per Draft Pick (2003-2016)

What the above chart is saying, it’s that the Canadiens under Timmins, while having selected the 24th least amount of picks, have the highest average of games played by player drafted. So there you have it folks. If someone ever tells you that Trevor Timmins is overrated, or that they Canadiens aren’t drafting well, show them proof that they are just blowing hot air, and that their opinion is based on nothing but the optic and not on evidence. This includes all NHL teams, so you have something concrete to base the comparisons, much better than listening to people who just like to hear themselves talk.

On a side note, can you imagine if Pierre Gauthier didn’t trade so many draft picks? Marc Bergevin understands the value of those picks and give Timmins the necessary freedom to do his work.

Source for numbers: hockeydb.com as of December 9, 2016

Habs and Stars Talking Trade?

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The Montreal Canadiens are beating everybody’s expectations so far this season. Who, in their right mind, would have picked the Habs to not only lead their division at the Christmas break, but be one of the top teams in the NHL? What’s even more amazing is the fact that they’ve been performing rather well, going as far as dominating some games, without some key players in their line-up.

Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais and Greg Pateryn were all out for the Canadiens when they faced two of the leagues hottest teams and yet, they not only competed but could have won both games. A slow start and an average performance by Carey Price – by his standards – cost the Habs the game against the Minnesota Wild, and had it not been of some heroics by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, they would have come out of Columbus with two points.

But that hasn’t stopped GM Marc Bergevin from looking at improving his team. As a matter of fact, fans should note that when he pulled the trigger on the trade with the Predators, the under laying statement was that he is going for a Stanley Cup run sooner rather than later by picking up Shea Weber.

Wishing upon a Star

In an article published on 98.5 Sports, reporter Dany Dubé is saying that “we can expect an important transaction” by the Canadiens in the next few weeks, and he believes that the Habs’ trade partner is a team that has been following them very closely.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dallas Stars were involved. There are constantly Stars scouts following the Habs everywhere. They follow them all, they’re almost in the Canadiens’ shoes. They’re going through a rough stretch, it’s critical. They will have to make important decisions if they want to make the playoffs” ~ Dany Dubé

But who could it be? As you can see, Dubé stops short of naming anyone but there aren’t that many options for a top-6 in Dallas. Forget Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn as there is no way the Stars are trading them. Patrick Sharp has only played one game so far this season, and only had one goal prior to being sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. It would be surprising if it were him, even if he came back as he would be a very high risk.

This only leaves a few options:

Jason Spezza

We have been mentioning his name on this blog for a few weeks now and aside for his cap hit of $7.5 million until 2018-19, if you only look at the hockey aspect, he would fill a need for the Canadiens. From his 6-foot 3-inches and 210 lbs, he is a big right-handed centerman who would form a solid one-two punch at centre with Alex Galchenyuk. He wins faceoffs at a rate of over 54% and he has heated up a bit with nine points in 11 games so far in December.

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Jason Spezza

Patrick Eaves

The 32 year-old veteran right winger is a solid two-way player who has 20 points (12 goals) in 34 games this season. In fact, he leads the Stars in goals scored, one ahead of Seguin, so it is very much uncertain that they would want to trade him right now, particularly when considering his $1 million salary.

Antoine Roussel

The gritty forward native of Roubaix, in France, can play hockey. He has 17 points in 34 games so far but is he really a true top-6 forward? I see him more as a left-handed Andrew Shaw, an excellent third liner who can step to the top-6 if or when needed.

Radek Faksa

The 22 year-old Czech has been one of the team’s top prospects for some time now, but he has yet to put it all together at the NHL level. Like Spezza, he stands at 6-foot 3-inches and 210 lbs and he also is a centre, although left handed and his faceoffs are sub-par at 47.1%. So far this season, he has managed five goals and eight assists in 35 games. The jury is out if he’ll ever become a first or second line centre but right now, he’s more of a third line player.

There you have it folks. As you can clearly see, it seems like the better fit might just be Spezza but let’s not forget that he does have a modified no-trade clause where he must submit a list of 10 teams to which he doesn’t want to be traded to. He has played in Canada before and his experience with the Senators was not a positive one.

The Stars also have a couple of defensemen who would fit in nicely with what Bergevin is searching for, which is a left-handed to play with Weber. Both Johnny Oduya and Dan Hamhuis would fit the bill rather nicely, base on their experience and the type of game that they play. Bergevin also knows Oduya very well from his days in Chicago.

Make your wish list folks, teams like Dallas and Colorado seem ripe for the picking and you can bet that the Canadiens are right in there talking to them. A factor that works in the Habs’ favour is that both those teams are in the Western Conference, as teams are historically more likely to make more substantial trade inter-conference to avoid facing them in the playoffs.