Celebrating Nick Suzuki's 23rd birthday: Analyzing His NHL Career Thus Far and His OHL Days

Published August 11, 2022 at 8:59

August tenth, exactly 23-years to the day - Nick Suzuki was born in London, Ontario.

Fast forward to today, and Suzuki has left his mark on the OHL, and is currently developing into the Montreal Canadiens hopeful number one centre. Suzuki flexed his playoff prowess during his time in Guelph specifically, earning playoff MVP honours - en route to an OHL, and Memorial Cup championship. He had brilliant numbers throughout his junior hockey career, split between the Owen Sound Attack, who drafted him in 2014-15 and the Guelph Storm, scoring 141 goals, 187 assists for 328 points through 251 games played over four seasons. During the 2019 OHL regular season, the Attack traded Suzuki to the Guelph Storm, which ended up being a massive addition to the Storm roster heading into the playoffs. Suzuki went on to score 16 goals, 26 assists for 42 points through 24 2018-19 OHL playoff games. Throughout his junior career, Suzuki played 58 playoff games, scoring 29 goals, 50 assists for 79 points over four seasons.

Suzuki's individual junior hockey awards include: OHL Gold cup silver medal, OHL first all-rookie team, CHL sportsman of the year, three-time William Hanley Trophy winner (OHL most sportsmanlike player), OHL second all-star team, CHL Memorial Cup most sportsmanlike player, OHL champion, playoffs most assists (26), most points (42), third all-star team and Wayne Gretzky 99 Award (OHL playoffs MVP).

The Vegas Golden Knights inaugural NHL Draft would ultimately bring Suzuki one step closer to his NHL dream. Suzuki's name sat upon many NHL top-20 pre-draft rankings lists, with one - TSN's Bob McKenzie ranking him 12th. Ultimately the Golden Knights selected Suzuki with the second of their three first-round picks at 13th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.

After Suzuki was drafted in 2017, he played his draft season in the OHL split between the Storm and Attack - scoring 34 goals, 60 assists through 59 games, he then went on to the playoffs. Suzuki exploded during the playoffs in all three zones, winning faceoffs and killing penalties, scoring clutch goals and making big plays while clogging up the neutral zone, turning pucks over and transitioning them into the offensive zone. Suzuki left it all on the table, securing the notion that he had nothing left to prove in junior hockey - he was prepared for the jump to professional hockey.

The following season, Suzuki played 71 games his rookie season in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, scoring 13 goals, 28 assists for his first 41 NHL points. Suzuki showed glimpses - signs of the potential he had to become a high-impact two-way centre.

In 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights were involved in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Multiple pieces were involved in the swap - Pacioretty and Suzuki being the two Ďbig names'. The full trade was Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty going to the Golden Knights in exchange for Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar and a second round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Since Suzuki came over to the Canadiens, he has played 251 games over four seasons, scoring 49 goals, 94 assists for 143 points. Suzuki and linemate Cole Caufield found chemistry together early on, before Head Coach Dominique Ducharme's first full season at the reigns saw Caufield struggle mightily. After Martin St. Louis took over behind the bench Suzuki and Caufield were kept together on a line, both having strong finishes to their 2021-22 season.

In the 2020-21 playoffs Caufield and Suzuki formed an electric duo, making smart plays in the defensive zone, smooth zone exits, before quick attacks in the offensive zone, which led to plenty of high danger scoring chances. In the handshake line after the Tampa Bay Lightning series, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper complimented Suzuki, telling him this was his coming out party, and that he had a bright future in the league. Suzuki, has earned himself the coaches trust on every team, which he's played for - receiving extra ice time on special teams units, due to his strong, responsible and clutch play.

Suzuki has flourished before Habs fans eyes, and with his newly minted eight-year extension set to kick in next season, the 23-year-old's prime years will be played in front of the Centre Bell faithful. Suzuki's contract carries out until he is 31-years-old, giving Canadiens fans plenty of time to watch number fourteen develop into an impactful number one centre, and potential future Canadiens captain.

Stay tuned for the start of NHL training camp in roughly three weeks, plenty of exciting players to watch and a potential roster, that has endless possibilities.
August 11   |   238 answers
Celebrating Nick Suzuki's 23rd birthday: Analyzing His NHL Career Thus Far and His OHL Days

Is Suzuki a top 10 NHL center?

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