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Carolina Hurricanes top 25 under 25 #7: Ryan Suzuki

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The Canes’ 2019 first rounder could be ready to make an impact sooner than later if his development continues.

NHL: JUL 22 Hurricanes Training Camp Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been quite the journey for Ryan Suzuki since being drafted late in the 2019 first round by the Hurricanes. After a strong season (25 goals, 75 points) with the Barrie Colts in his draft year, Suzuki returned to the OHL for year three.

He again started well with Barrie, but was sidelined by a scary eye injury in early November that kept him out for over a month. Barrie’s journey and recovery, and the impact of the injury, was chronicled well by Scott Burnside of The Athletic ($). As Burnside notes, Suzuki’s vision in the injured eye is imperfect, with a center blind spot, but he still has the peripheral vision needed to play at a high level.

Not long after his return to the lineup in Barrie, Suzuki’s roller coaster season continued, as he found himself on a new team, traded to the Saginaw Spirit at the trade deadline.

Suzuki took off in 23 games with the Spirit, scoring 13 goals and 35 points (an increase from 1.09 points per game with Barrie to 1.52). Suzuki posted nearly an assist per game with Saginaw, showing the playmaking prowess that led to his first-round selection.

Suzuki cracked a loaded roster for Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championship and is off to a strong start to the tournament, with two goals and and an assist in three games. In the video below, he shows strong instincts to hunt down a loose puck off a net-mouth scramble and snap it home.

https://twitter.com/Hockey_Robinson/status/1344077951675985920?s=20

With the OHL season set to begin in February, Suzuki is most likely to spend another season in Saginaw (he’s not yet eligible for the AHL). He’ll turn 20 in May, so could make the jump to start his pro career, most likely in Chicago with the Wolves, next season.

As Kevin chronicled in his prospects roundup before the draft, Suzuki has the ability to play well and win battles off the puck, but his best attribute is his ability to make plays and set up his teammates for scoring opportunities.

Suzuki projects as an NHL top-six forward, and, as long as his development continues uninterrupted this year, he could be ready to make an impact sooner than later.