Age: 22 (will be 23 on Oct. 1)
Physical: Height: 5’10” / 178 cm, Weight: 192 lbs / 87 kg
TLN Top-20 Ranking From Last Year: 7
Draft Information: 2015 5th round, 125th overall
Dmytro Timashov is part of the embodiment of a new era in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey. The 2015 draft that he came from was the first one where the Leafs really started to take bigger gamble on the skill level of players, and focus more on their ceiling as compared to their size and if they can “handle the NHL game”.
While many have praised that draft to be a great one, we are now four years later and have really only seen Mitch Marner and Travis Dermott see any NHL time out of that group, and only Timashov, Jeremy Bracco, and Jesper Lindgren remain in the Leafs system. While it still looks better than the 2016 and 2017 drafts, it’s far from the prospect overhaul we once thought.
Almost at the age of 23, this season is a crucial one for Timashov, as his time to develop is running out, and his body of work to this point shows there’s still a chance, but the odds are not in his favour.
Why Is He In This Tier?
When Timashov was drafted in 2015, he was coming off a season in the QMJHL which saw him put up 71 assists and 90 points in 66 games with the Quebec Ramparts, and followed that up with 85 points in 57 games between Quebec and the Shawinigan Cataractes in his draft +1 year.
This skill at the junior level was why he always had been looked at with such upside. While there was a chance he might bottom out as nothing more than an AHLer, he also had the potential to be a skilled NHL forward.
And that’s why he sits here today. By the time the season starts, he will be 23, and will probably only have a year or two left before he hits his prime, and it is looking more and more likely that he bottoms out as an AHLer than be a skilled NHL forward.
That’s not to say he’s completely done for however. He’s coming off a 49 point season in the AHL (and an even stronger performance in the playoffs), and has become a more reliable piece on the Marlies. In fact, Andreas Johnsson saw similar production at his age 22 season with the Marlies, and he’s become a key piece to the Leafs just two years later, so all hope is not lost. But, the clock is ticking.
Coming off his high-scoring seasons in the QMJHL, Timashov showed that he had the potential to be a good play-making winger at the NHL level. While the QMJHL has historically been a higher scoring league than the WHL and OHL, Timashov tied for 11th in scoring in his draft year (with current San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, mind you), so that alone makes him not a bad bet to use a 5th round pick on.
But there’s more to the story than that. According to a 2014 scouting report of him on Elite Prospects, he was described as “an agile winger with very good puckhandling skills” and “a dangerous player who will wow audiences with his speed and creativity”. Long story short, he had flashes that made for a good bet at the time.
But, this isn’t about what Timashov was like when he was drafted, we care about what he’s like now. Corey Pronman of the Athletic described him in his Leafs prospect ranking article, pointing out his “skill and hockey sense” as something that stands out to him, but also notes that “he’s small and not that good of a skater”.
His skating is a cause for concern at this point, especially since the league has shifted to a fast-skating game, but if he makes up for it in hockey sense and skill, there’s still a chance he can make it.
And he has showcased that from time to time, such as this penalty shot goal against Charlotte in an elimination game, where he pulls off the Kucherov no shot move.
OMG DMYTRO TIMASHOV pic.twitter.com/xSo0mzxQxX
— 51Leafs (@51Leafs) May 27, 2019
At this point, Timashov’s best and worst case scenario’s are pretty clear, and it’s very likely we find out what happens by this time next year.
His best-case scenario would be something like the aforementioned Johnsson, and we see him absolutely dominate the AHL and getting a chance in the NHL, and showcasing himself as a solid middle six option. However, the one issue there is that Johnsson had an opportunity due to the lack of forward depth beyond the NHL roster, while this year the Leafs have about ten forwards that wouldn’t be in the top nine that you could look at as bottom six NHL forwards, and likely ahead of Timashov on the depth chart. Basically, he’ll have to really wow in the AHL to get a shot.
The worst case scenario is basically that he sees a similar fate to fellow 2015 draftee Andrew Nielsen, and he doesn’t have much of a future beyond the AHL and is shipped out for a minimal return, or he just happens to be kept on the Marlies to help keep that team competitive.
If I was a betting man, I’d be more likely to think that the worst case scenario is more likely to happen, but it’s far from a certainty.
In case I haven’t made it clear already, this season is due or die for Timashov. Most NHL forwards hit their prime in their early to mid 20s, and at age 23, that’s exactly what Timashov is reaching.
Up to this point, he’s seen a slow, but steady development, and his next step is to either dominate the AHL or show that he can play in the NHL, and that potential is certainly there, and he needs to do it now if he has any hope of having a future in the NHL.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s very likely that we will know if Timashov truly is an NHL player by the end of this season, and it’s up to him to show us which answer it is.