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A different scenario

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Accustomed to hitting the stage a little bit later in the NHL Draft, Trevor Timmins is hoping to capitalize on the chance to secure the Canadiens’ top pick early over the weekend in Buffalo.

Trevor Timmins will be taking part in his 14th draft with the Canadiens later on this week.

While the most recent campaign didn’t go the way everyone thought it would, finishing the year in the bottom portion of the NHL standings enabled the Canadiens to be among the first teams to make their opening-round selection known to the world at the First Niagara Center come Friday night.

A few months back, Timmins likely anticipated stepping up to the microphone as the first round wound down. But, the Canadiens’ struggles beginning in December had a direct effect on his strategy heading into the annual event, so much so that both he and his colleagues essentially had to start from scratch and go back to the drawing board at a certain point in time.

“We had a big shift in planning our coverage in January. Up until that point, we thought we’d be a playoff team and picking in that sort of position. But, as things unfolded towards February and March, we had to really concentrate on a lottery pick, which was totally different. The number of prospects gets dwindled down, but you need to spend a lot more time on those prospects as well,” admitted Timmins, the Canadiens’ vice president of player personnel and director of amateur scouring, who will be taking part in his 14th draft this year. “In the early going, we thought the players we were watching would be anywhere from the 20th to the 30th pick. It was a different animal, but we got it all under control. There was a lot of coverage, but management pitched in and helped out our scouting staff as well.”

For just the fourth time since arriving on the scene in Montreal in 2002-03, Timmins will be making a Top 10 pick. Well aware that it’s far too early to know if the lucky youngster will begin next season in a Canadiens uniform, Timmins, 48, knows that the spotlight will be squarely on him and that the pick will garner plenty of attention.

Timmins says it’s tough to remember a draft where it was so difficult to predict which player would ultimately be selected by which team – especially following the first three picks. That being said, he’s all smiles when he thinks about which players could be available to the Canadiens at No. 9.

“When you pick in Top 10, there’s a lot more pressure that goes with it. You have to hit on this pick and there are a lot more higher-ranked players available there. It’s exciting. It’s like when you’re going to buy a new car and you have the ability to pick a Ferrari or a Lamborghini instead of a truck,” cracked Timmins, whose last Top 10 pick came back in 2012 when he selected Alex Galchenyuk in the No. 3 spot. “What I mean is that when you pick somewhere between 20 and 30, you might get someone who’ll become a third line player. He still could be a workhorse, though. You could hit a home run and get a forward who could play on the top two lines, or even a Top 4 defenseman. Now, we’re looking at a player who could play as a Top 6 forward or a Top 3 defenseman.”

While many observers believe the 2016 draft class to be among the best in a long time, Timmins is of the opinion that only time will tell if that’s true. The fact that there’s been a lot of excitement and interest in certain players over the last few months – especially in Canada – because their names have been talked about so extensively in the media, has made the upcoming draft one people have been eagerly anticipating.

With seven picks this time around, including three in the first 45 spots, Timmins is keen on continuing to stock the Canadiens’ cupboards with players who will one day ply their trade in Montreal. Over the course of his 23 years of NHL experience with Ottawa and Montreal combined, he knows that developing prospects – as both players and people alike – isn’t an exact science. That’s why he’s always looking ahead and trying to learn from both his good – and less successful – moves from past drafts.

“The second day is where we roll up our sleeves and really get to work. It’s where you can add to the depth of the franchise, which can really help moving forward,” concluded Timmins, who has picks in every round, except the seventh. “This year, we have two second round picks in good spots. Picking 39 and 45, hopefully we can secure future regular NHLers.”

Hugo Fontaine is a writer for Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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