In our 2017 NHL Draft Preview, we look closely at some of the prospects that could be available when the Hurricanes draft at 12th overall on June 23 in Chicago.
- DOB: August 10, 1999 - London, Ontario
- Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
- Center | Shoots: R | 5’11”, 185 pounds
- 2016-17 Stats: 65 GP - 45G, 51A, 96 Points, 10 PIM
In a draft that is strongest down the middle of the ice, Suzuki is another name to add to the list of potentially 12 pivots who could be drafted in the top-20 on June 23rd. Although he played wing for a good amount of his most recent season, Suzuki’s future is at center ice, where he has terrific two-way ability to pair with his offensive prowess.
The London native was one of the best players in the OHL in 2016-17, leading his Owen Sound team to the Western Conference finals, where they fell in six games to the eventual champion Erie Otters. Suzuki finished fifth among OHL players in points with 45 goals and 51 assists, and sixth in points-per-game at 1.48.
In 2017-18 he should be even more dominant in the OHL, playing in all situations for Owen Sound and should be a contender for the Canadian roster at the 2018 World Juniors. As one of the youngest players in the draft, he has a lot of room to grow as he is nearly a year younger then some of the other prospects who will be selected.
Suzuki’s game is all about skill. He’s a deft playmaker who is incredibly dangerous in transition, using his elite hockey sense to process the play and decide whether to shoot or pass. Typically in the zone you can find Suzuki below the circles or on the half wall, where he frees up space for his linemates through his ability to control the puck. He is lethal from all areas below the circles and does a great job of creating unique angles in order to get his shot off.
The young forward showed off his ability as a two-way presence this season, potting five shorthanded goals, typically caused by his ability to force turnovers and score on breakaways. Suzuki has good feet and soft hands which lead him to be deadly in one-on-one situations when he gets in on a goaltender.
Although not overly tall, Suzuki is well-built and is a handful when defenders try to separate him from the puck. He is not very physical, but does have a high compete level and he has been complemented for his leadership ability both on and off the ice.
There’s a very real possibility that Suzuki will be in the conversation when it is time for the Canes to draft. Outside of his height, he checks many, if not all of the boxes that Carolina tends to look for in its players. Pairing his elite playmaking ability with his on-ice IQ, it’s easy to see Suzuki fitting in with the Canes organization.
He falls into the second group of centers behind Hischier, Patrick and Vilardi, but could still be a lottery worthy option. With the variation that this draft will have following the first few picks, it should be an exciting first round to watch as teams will not only be drafting off of positional need but also attributes that fit their system. Given the way the Hurricanes play, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear Nick Suzuki’s name called by GM Ron Francis on draft day.