LONDON, Ontario -- When you're paired with Auston Matthews, it's a pretty good indicator that management feels highly of you.
That's the situation forward Dmytro Timashov found himself in during Toronto Maple Leafs rookie development camp in July. The two shared accommodations when they went to Niagara Falls and spent much of the time being grouped together on a line with forward Jeremy Bracco.
There was a lot the Maple Leafs were impressed by.
Selected in the fifth round (No. 125) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Timashov, one of the Maple Leafs' final cuts in training camp last season, turned heads with his play at their rookie tournament last season.
"For his skill set, I thought he was outstanding in this event last year," Toronto Marlies (AHL) coach Sheldon Keefe said. "I thought he had a great training camp with the Leafs and had great games in training camp. I thought he played really, really well."
Timashov's game reached a new level when he represented Sweden at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. He finished third in scoring with two goals and five assists in seven games while impressing with his speed and passing ability.
"For me it was all about showing more people how I can play," Timashov said. "I've never doubted my ability but at that tournament, I was able to play my game and show everyone what I can do. For many people it may have been a surprise, but for me it was, it was no surprise."
Timashov's path to playing hockey is anything but typical. Born in Kirovograd, Ukraine, his parents split up when he was a year old and he moved to Sweden with his mother when he was seven. He was 8 years old and didn't know any Swedish when his stepfather got him his first pair of skates. That's when he fell in love with the game of hockey.
"It was the most fun I've had and the most fun I had playing a sport," Timashov said. "I didn't think at the time I would be a hockey player (growing up), I just tried to have fun."
Timashov has been pressed by scouts to shoot the puck more. His first instinct is to pass, which is typically better suited for centers. With players like Matthews unavailable because of the World Cup of Hockey 2016, Timashov was challenged more by playing center alongside prospects Frederik Gauthier and Trevor Moore at training camp.
"Now coming back for the second time around, we want him to pick up on some of the structure and the details that go along with the skill," Keefe said. "Being in the right spots and picking up on the little things that come your way in different scenarios. He made an impact last year so the expectation is high."
Timashov looks to one of his favorite players, Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, as an inspiration to make it into the NHL.
"He's a great example of what you can do if you train a lot," Timashov said. "And on the ice too, he's a great passer. He's pretty old but he's still one of the better players out there. I think it's his hard work off the ice that keeps him going."
The extra time on the ice and in the gym likely will make the difference in Timashov's career trajectory. With the Maple Leafs stacked up front with young talent, it'll take another exceptional camp to make the jump into the League. But given what Timashov has accomplished in the past year, it's impossible to count anything out.