Qualified candidates

Thursday, 31.05.2012 / 7:50 PM / News
canadiens.com

TORONTO – After days of interviewing the NHL’s top prospects, the Habs’ Trevor Timmins shares his insight into the process.

The fitness-testing portion of the 2012 Scouting Combine may only kick off tomorrow, but for hockey’s top young talent, cracking the NHL begins like it would for any other job – with an interview.

Enter Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ Director of Procurement and Player Development. While he may have spent the last few days interviewing prospects for the position of being the Habs’ first-round draft pick, according to Timmins, narrowing down the candidates to find the best fit is actually a season-long job.

Trevor Timmins on interview process

“The most important part of the process is what we see on the ice all season. We go to many, many games – that’s the key part,” explained Timmins of the steps leading up to a player interview at the combine. “This, right now, is another piece of the puzzle. What we’re trying to find out here is their commitment to becoming a pro. We want to get to know a little bit more of their personalities, and very importantly, their support system. We want to know about their family situation, who they’ve relied upon to get to this point – whether it’s coaches or personal trainers – and we put all that together to see what we can find out about the athlete as a person.”

For Timmins, a shot at the third-overall selection not only ranks as the highest draft-pick he’s had at his disposal during his 11 years with the Habs, but also the team’s highest draft-pick since 1980. With a rare chance to welcome a Top-3 prospect into the Canadiens fold, Timmins made no mistake in guaranteeing he had as much information about the players in question, leading up to the big day.

“Going into the latter part of the season and knowing you’re going to have a higher draft pick alters your scouting and what you’re doing in the last couple of months. I turned my attention towards the Top 10 specifically and spending a lot of time on those players,” shared Timmins whose first-round pick from last June, Nathan Beaulieu, selected 17th overall, was just inked to a three-year deal by Habs GM, Marc Bergevin on Wednesday.

“I think the pressure is always greater when you have a Top 10 pick than if you have a later pick,” admitted Timmins, well aware that the skater he selects could very possibly have an impact on the Canadiens lineup as early as next season. “Picking high in the draft, you always want to hit a home run and get a top-level player. There’s a lot of extra work that goes into those players especially when you know that you’ll pick higher.

“You always try to find a top two line forward or a top two defensemen or a starting goaltender,” he continued. “When we took Carey Price 5th overall, we projected him to be a good starting goaltender down the road and hopefully a blue chip prospect. He turned out to be that. You try to find a player like that, who will have an impact on your team moving forward.”

While the interview process and everything leading up to it is certainly a crucial part of making the right selection come draft time, the fitness-testing segment of this year’s scouting combine is as important as ever. With more top prospects coming off injuries than in almost any other season, the physical tests mark just another way for a team to put their stamp of approval on a player.

“What’s important here, because those high-end prospects had been injured, is for each team to make their due diligence on the medical side if they’re interested in those prospects,” pointed out Timmons, as several of the most sought-after prospects are in various stages of recovery, including Nail Yakupov (concussion), Mikhail Grigorenko (sprained ankle, shoulder), Ryan Murray (high ankle sprain) and Alex Galchenyuk (ACL surgery). “Our doctor will be coming in and going over the records to make sure that the prospects we’re looking at are fully healed and there will be no issues moving forward.”

As far as young talent in the system goes, the Canadiens organization already has a lot to be excited about, and adding a potential star to the mix after the 2012 draft would only improve the situation for Montreal. With three prospects taking part in this year’s Memorial Cup final and three selections in the first two rounds of the draft, the future looks bright for the Habs.

“We got Michael Bournival and Patrick Holland through trades and they’re good young prospects who are going to enter our system this coming season in Hamilton,” expressed Timmins, on the team’s future. “It’s exciting for us because we have seven young players who will go to Hamilton that have been integral parts of their junior and college teams. It’s going to be exciting to see those prospects come in.

“As for the rest of the draft, every pick is exciting us, and for our fans. It’s great having two second-round picks this year. We haven’t had a second-round pick for a few years now,” finished Timmins. “There are usually quality players coming up in the second round. We’re also looking forward to next year where we have three second-round picks. But hopefully we won’t be picking third overall again!”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.

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