Suzuki Becoming A Dominant Player

The Vegas Golden Knights got a good player in Max Pacioretty when they traded for him with the Montreal Canadiens. What wasn’t expected was the fact that even with Pacioretty producing to his potential, the Habs would get the best in that trade. Vegas gave up Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second round pick, which the Canadiens traded for two later picks at the following NHL Draft. They selected Matias Norlinder with one of those picks. While in Montreal, Tatar produced at a similar pace as Pacioretty did in Vegas but at a fraction of the cost. Norlinder could become a big piece in the near future but as it sits right now, the key player in this trade is Suzuki.

So far in his young career, Suzuki has managed 96 points in 142 regular season’s games in the NHL. The former 13th overall pick at the 2017 NHL Draft has seen a steady progression not only in his play, but in his production. He managed 13 goals and 41 points in 71 games (0.58 Pts/GP) in his rookie season. Last season, his second in the NHL, he also finished with 41 points including 15 goals, but in only 56 games (0.73 Pts/GP) due to the shortened season. Slick Nick has already played in 32 playoffs’ games with the Canadiens and he has an impressive 11 goals and 23 points (0.72 Pts/GP).

Perhaps as impressive as his offensive numbers is how sound he is without the puck for a young player, on the defensive side. Suzuki takes pride on being a 200-foot player and it shows. And his ice time reflects the young man’s increased role on his team:

SUZUKITOI/GPPP TOI/GPPK TOI/GP
2019-2015:592:100:18
2020-2118:112:240:45
2021-2219:103:191:30

In Montreal long term

Nick Suzuki

When he signed with Montreal as a free agent, Tyler Toffoli said that one of the reasons why he wanted to come to Montreal was to play with Nick Suzuki. When you reach the status of drawing free agents, you have something special. And Marc Bergevin recognized that when he extended his young center by rewarding him with an eight-year, $63 million contract which kicks in next season.

Bergevin, who had seen the Carolina Hurricanes sign the team’s other young centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a ridiculous $6.1 million offer-sheet, wanted nothing to do with risking seeing them (or another team) do the same with their young number one centre. The Canadiens’ GM did come under a bit of heat early on this season with this contract as Suzuki, like the rest of the team, had a slow start. He had yet to get a point in his first four games this season but boy oh boy, has that changed since!

The London, Ontario native has 14 points in 11 games since then, including being red hot with nine points in his last five games. We don’t hear anything on social media about his contract anymore. Weird isn’t it? It’s as if it was too soon to make a judgement after merely… four games!

Flattering Comparison

Perhaps the best analogy, or comparison, came back 10 months ago when Jonathan Drouin compared his young teammate to none other than a mini Patrice Bergeron. Solid at both ends of the ice, Suzuki only misses one key component to his game to live up to such a flattering comparison: faceoffs. Bergeron is one of the best in the business and he’s a perennial Selke Trophy candidate. Suzuki is getting there defensively but his 44.8% career faceoffs is far from being on par to Bergeron… so far. And he’s only 22 years old!

Either way, the Canadiens have an excellent player in Suzuki and fans should be very happy about it. The team gave him an “A” on his jersey for home games this season but don’t be surprised if one day, that letter changed to a “C” on a permanent basis.

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