Currently tied for third in OHL scoring after 23 games, Nick Suzuki was Vegas Golden Knights second pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and 13th overall. Distinguished by his effortless skating he brings versatile package of abilities and plays on both special teams, on the point on powerplay. Scott Crawford provides a detailed breakdown of Suzuki's game illustrating why he is such an exciting prospect.
A note on the 20-80 scale used below. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.
|Nick Suzuki||2017 Draft (13th - Vegas Golden Knights)|
|Position: C, Shoots: R||H/W: 5-11", 185 lbs|
|Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS)||Owen Sound Attack, OHL (23-16-25-41-8)|
Skating: Suzuki is one of the best NHL prospects taken in last year’s draft, especially at 13th overall by the Golden Knights. One of the reasons why he is top three in scoring in the OHL is because of his skating. His skating is among the best in the OHL because of the effortless way he moves around the ice. He can move North-South and West-East no problem and he barely breaks a sweat. When he transitions, he transitions quickly. If his team causes a turnover, he is the first one there to challenge the opposing player or if his team takes away the puck he is the first one up the ice for the open outlet pass. Overall, he is quicker than most players in the OHL and he is hard to stop once he gets going with the puck. Grade: 65
Shot: Suzuki’s shots are quick and hard to notice through traffic. His wrist shot can be used in any scenario, whether he is skating up the ice to shoot on goal or if he is picking up a loose puck and firing it on net. He is dangerous around the net as he likes to skate around the net, move along the half boards then move out in front of the net without the goaltender knowing where he is aiming to shoot. He likes to move and shoot when he is creating scoring chances for himself, and there will be rare times where he will sit and wait for the puck. Grade: 60
Skills: It is not everyday where you can get a forward like Suzuki who can move the puck like a forward at even strength, but then move the puck like a defenseman on the power play. Suzuki is counted on to bring the puck up ice or help control the puck into the offensive zone when he is playing forward. However, on the powerplay he is relegated to the defense position to help control the puck at the blue line more efficiently. His coaches also rely on his skill to carry the puck into to the offensive zone on the powerplay. He has an excellent cross over and can use his backhand to steer the puck from opposing players who try to stick check him and when he has created enough space for himself he will use his crossover from his backhand and go to his forehand. Has annoying habit of flipping the puck past his opponent and skating around him, but the trick usually does not work half the time he is pulling it off. Grade: 60
Smarts: One of the smartest players in the OHL, Suzuki’s intelligence is counted on at 5v5, on the powerplay and the penalty kill. Away from the puck he understands where he needs to be if he needs to challenge players, come back and support a defenseman who is distributing the first puck from his own zone or act as a support player for a teammate who is cornered and forced to throw the loose puck away. He is one of the best penalty killers in the OHL, he squares up opposing players shoulder to shoulder with his stick out in front ready to take the passing lane away. He will sacrifice his body to block the puck from hitting his net and he has a keen eye for sensing when his teammates will take the puck away from the opposing forwards. Grade: 60
Physicality: Suzuki is surprisingly showing some grit in his game. He scans his opponents with the puck and pins them to the boards with the proper positioning. He still has issues skating into traffic with bigger players. If he is taking on a defenseman who is 6-2” or bigger he will skate to the side instead of going right at him like he normally does. Not one to take part in the corner battles, Suzuki still acts as the teammate who will clean up the loose puck once it is free from the scrums. Grade: 50
Summary: Nick Suzuki is a highly skilled forward playing in the OHL and he will be a highly skilled forward when he enters the NHL. There is a bright future for him as he will continue to skate fast and move the puck around to create scoring chances or make plays for his teammates. He is smart enough to develop his skillset for the next level of his career and he is creative enough that his offensive output will continue to be consistent. To be the ultimate player he needs to continue working on his physical play as he displays signs of playing physical along the boards, but needs to be more active when his teammates need help. The Vegas Golden Knights have a good prospect and he should have been taken in the top ten in the 2017 NHL draft.