NHL Mock Draft 2017: The Tampa Bay Lightning select Conor Timmins with 31st pick

After trading a second and third-round pick, we’ve picked a Soo-eet defenseman!

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Raw Charge have a trade to announce in the SBNation 2017 NHL Mock Draft. We have traded the 45th overall pick in the second round and the 76th overall pick in the third round for Arizona’s 31st overall pick in the first round. Arizona and Five For Howling had previously acquired the 31st overall pick in a trade with Pittsburgh and Pensburgh.

With the 31st pick of the 2017 SBNation NHL Mock Draft, Raw Charge and the Tampa Bay Lightning select defenseman Conor Timmins of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Why we made the trade and pick

As stated in the State of the Farm section of Kailer Yamamoto’s selection article, the Lightning are a little short on right-handed defensemen. After Jake Dotchin, there’s a drop off to Matthew Spencer. Then it gets even steeper to Dylan Blujus, Ben Thomas, and Jonathan MacLeod. Thomas is the most offensively capable of that group, but that’s not saying much. He is projected as a 6/7 type defenseman that could fill a role similar to Mark Barberio and Nikita Nesterov. The rest project as third pair, stay-at-home defensemen at best or as NHL depth players.

While trading away the two picks leaves the Lightning only selecting five times total in the draft, the Lightning have acquired a lot of extra picks recently. Over the past two drafts, the Lightning have added 19 prospects. While one of those selected prospects has already been traded (Boko Imama), there are still lots of prospects in the pipeline. That allows us to feel more comfortable with giving up a third-round pick to move up 14 spots back into the first round.

Even more so, it allows us to address a need in the system. Conor Timmins is the best of the right-handed defensemen remaining on the board, in our assessment. I should also note that the decision to make this trade and selection was prior to the announcement of the Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev trade. That trade doesn’t change our opinion about the need for a right-handed defenseman as Sergachev is left-handed.

Timmins measures in at 6’1” and 183 pounds. In his rookie season in the OHL with the Greyhounds, he was a bottom pairing defender and still put up four goals and 13 points in 60 games.

He entered 2016-17 as a middle pairing defenseman for the Greyhounds, and ascended through the season to become their #1 defenseman by the playoffs. He contributed seven goals and 61 points in 67 games along with a plus-53 rating. He added another goal and eight points in 11 playoff games.

Not much of Timmins’ point increase can be attributed to the power play this season. He had three goals and 12 assists with the man advantage. He also only had one assist while short handed. The rest of his points came at even strength. In fact, he led all OHL defensemen at 5-on-5 in points and primary points with 44 and 25 respectively. He was also first in primary assists per game.

Timmins is a bit of a late bloomer, not making it to the OHL until just after he turned 17. He missed the 2016 NHL Entry Draft cut-off by days making him one of the oldest prospects in the 2017 class. He turns 19 in September and that will mean, like Yamamoto, he can play one more season in the OHL before he could join the AHL where he would be able to further refine his professional game.

Timmins’ position in draft rankings is a bit scattered, making it a little harder to pinpoint his exact draft positioning. He was ranked #44 by Future Considerations, but garnered a #23 ranking from McKeen’s Hockey and a #28 ranking by ISS Hockey. He was also ranked the #18 North American Skater by NHL’s Central Scouting.

It’s possible Timmins could have been available at the 45th overall pick. Since this is a one-round mock draft though, we figured we would go for it. There’s no guarantee he would fall that far either. By adding Timmins, we’ve added an impact, right-handed defenseman that knows his way around the offensive zone while being responsible enough in his own zone. He was a player we wanted and we went out and got him.