When Sheldon Keefe took a closer look at the video from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first preseason game, he couldn’t help but be impressed by Conor Timmins. In Ottawa, Timmins not only contributed to both goals of his split squad but also created several quality scoring opportunities. Keefe even believed that Timmins could have had four points if some of his teammates had converted their chances. Also Read: Oilers, Flames’ Heritage Classic Jerseys Revealed
On Tuesday night in Buffalo Sabres’ 5-2 victory, he showed remarkable ability, scoring four primary points – two goals and two assists! This remarkable accomplishment took his total up to six in only two games and cemented him as NHL preseason scoring leader, something many would have found hard to believe just a week ago.
Teammate Sam Lafferty could hardly contain his excitement after seeing how well Lafferty performed: “Absurd! A lot of fun to watch. “
Keefe had no doubt in Timmins’ offensive abilities, noting his 14 points in 25 games for the Leafs last season despite limited ice time as a third-pair defenseman. However, their goal is to help mold Timmins into an all-around player capable of excelling both offensively and defensively.
“Consistency is key,” Keefe noted. “Part of playing that position means being reliable to break out pucks, defend well against great opponents when necessary and not need shelter – all those things make an important contribution toward moving forward.”
Timmins had signed a two-year extension worth $1.1 million upon being acquired by the Leafs; however, due to their veteran depth he spent much of the postseason as a practice player. Determined to improve, Timmins spent the summer training in Toronto, increasing his strength and weight to 206 pounds. This newfound strength and early-season success have boosted his confidence.
Timmins has focused on strengthening his defensive abilities, winning battles along the boards and making smart decisions on breakouts. His physicality and versatility has not gone unnoticed by his teammates; for instance, Max Domi acknowledged their value when commenting: “He’s not fun to play against; good skater, big body strong with good boxing out as he boxes out nicely he also can make plays, underrated just like Timmy Liljegren too?.”
Timmins faces an additional obstacle – no longer exempt from waivers – which means the Leafs must make the tough decision of keeping him as their seventh defenseman or risk losing him to the AHL should they send him down before season opening. While injuries could alter things dramatically, Timmins continues to impress by seizing any chance presented him and rising quickly through their ranks.
In the recent exhibition game, an injury to John Klingberg, another talented right-handed defenseman, opened up more ice time for Timmins. He didn’t disappoint, putting on a four-point spectacle and leaving a lasting impression on the fans in St. Thomas.
“It reminded me of my junior days,” Timmins reflected with a smile. “I played a year in Junior B when I was 16 years old, and it is kind of similar to this. A lot of kids tonight. They were really loud. It was great.”
Conor Timmins’ journey to becoming a fixture in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup may still be uncertain, but one thing is clear: his talent and determination are shining bright in the preseason spotlight.