The Maple Leafs announced today that recent acquisition Conor Timmins has been signed to a two-year contract extension worth $1.1 million AAV.

Acquired in December in exchange for Marlies forward Curtis Douglas, the 24-year-old Timmins has pleasantly surprised with his offensive play since joining the Leafs, piling up points on a consistent basis — 12 points in 18 games, 10 at even strength — thanks to his puck-moving ability, poise, and instincts in the offensive zone.

His ~30-point pace over his 59-game NHL career is quite solid, but we’ve seen clear signs of why Timmins is a multi-year reclamation project for the organization as well. With just over 50 games of NHL experience, he is still learning the nuances of defensive-zone coverage and reads on the ice in general. Some tough outings against the likes of Boston — and the periods of time spent in the press box — make it pretty obvious that he is only likely to appear in the playoff lineup if injuries strike inside the Leafs‘ top six.

It will be interesting to revisit the state of his game in a year’s time once Timmins has spent a good chunk of time working with the Leafs‘ development staff, gaining experience and reps in the league, and learning under the veteran mentorship of a Mark Giordano.

Most importantly, it needs to be a healthy year upcoming for a player whose biggest hindrance has been his inability to stay in the lineup at the pro level. Since he was drafted in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2017 draft, Timmins was subsequently traded to the Arizona Coyotes and never found his footing there largely due to lengthy injury-related absences. He missed the entire 2018-19 season due to a concussion; the following season, he played only 42 games. Last season, he appeared in just 43 games between the AHL and NHL levels.

Overall, this is a good bet on a right-handed defenseman who possesses some size and NHL tools, albeit one who will need to make up for lost development time. With RHD Justin Holl unsigned past the end of this season and TJ Brodie (a left-hander who plays the right) entering the final year of his contract in 2023-24, this is the kind of cheap upside bet that makes a lot of sense for the Leafs. At $1.1 million AAV, Timmins’ contract falls under the $1.125 million buriable threshold.

“He is a guy that clearly hadn’t played a lot of hockey. Because of injury and circumstance, he hasn’t really been able to get any traction in his development on the ice and physically off the ice in terms of getting stronger and working on his skating. But he has shown a willingness to work.

Right away, that helps a player and is somebody you want to embrace, especially for a guy who has shown immediately — despite the fact that he has a ways to go in terms of his development — the tremendous ability to make plays, tremendous confidence with the puck, vision, and poise on the ice. And he is a big guy who shoots right and has a pedigree to him.

There are lots of reasons to invest in a player like that. At times, we have talked to him and told him that even when he played well, he was coming out and we want him to work on some other things. He has been invested in himself, and we are investing in him. We think the best is yet to come.”

– Sheldon Keefe on Conor Timmins’ new contract

Conor Timmins Statistics

S Team League GP G A TP PIM +/-
2015-16 Soo Greyhounds OHL 60 4 9 13 20 27
2016-17 Soo Greyhounds OHL 67 7 54 61 69 53
2017-18 Soo Greyhounds “A” OHL 36 8 33 41 43 18
Canada U20 WJC-20 7 1 4 5 4 15
2018-19 Colorado Eagles AHL 0 0 0 0 0 0
2019-20 Colorado Avalanche NHL 2 0 0 0 0 2
Colorado Eagles AHL 40 3 24 27 38 -1
2020-21 Colorado Avalanche NHL 31 0 7 7 8 6
Colorado Eagles AHL 6 1 3 4 4 -3
2021-22 Arizona Coyotes NHL 6 0 0 0 0 -6
2022-23 Arizona Coyotes NHL 2 0 0 0 0 -2
Tucson Roadrunners AHL 6 0 3 3 12 -10
Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 18 1 11 12 2 0
Projected NHL 50 3 28 31 5 -5