An aspiring NHL ahead sits quietly as his future bosses reward his work throughout the crew’s coaching camp, understanding he’ll quickly be sharing the ice with these he is aware of properly again within the Ontario Hockey League.
Montreal Canadiens normal supervisor Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien inform the 13th general decide from the 2017 NHL draft he is near being a daily within the league. The 19-year-old participant, his confidence hovering, additionally believes he is on the cusp of NHL employment. However there’s work to be executed.
“They need me to play at the next tempo,” says Nick Suzuki, the important thing return for the Canadiens within the Sept. 9 commerce that despatched captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights, who go to the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday night time. “I acquired used to taking part in at an NHL tempo [at camp] and I’ve to play a step forward of all people [in junior] and take a look at my greatest to dominate each recreation.”
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Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Todd Gill, in his second season teaching Suzuki with the Owen Sound Assault, factors out the crew’s first-year captain solely must be informed issues as soon as.
This man’s acquired all of it — the hockey sense, an NHL shot, he sees the ice very properly and might go the puck with one of the best of them.— Assault head coach Todd Gill on ahead Nick Suzuki
The native of London, Ont., has factors in all however three of 13 video games since, recording 13 objectives, 25 factors and a plus-9 ranking throughout 16 contests, placing Suzuki on observe for a second consecutive 100-point season.
“This man’s acquired all of it — the hockey sense, an NHL shot, he sees the ice very properly and might go the puck with one of the best of them,” says Gill, who performed 1,007 NHL regular-season video games. “However the No. 1 factor with Nick this season is his tempo of play has actually improved.”
Late reduce by Group Canada
Earlier in his profession, Suzuki says, he did not transfer his ft whereas studying the play however is studying to achieve unfastened pucks and opposing gamers faster.
“He wasn’t fairly there to tackle a giant position at a world-level tourney,” says Letowski, the previous NHL ahead who will not be a part of new head coach Tim Hunter’s workers when the world juniors begins Dec. 26 in Vancouver and Victoria. “Nick is such a wise participant, form of misleading and a kind of guys that may make an influence each time he is on the ice, however he simply wasn’t fairly capable of create like he had within the OHL. I might guess he is prepared now to try this.”
A late reduce of Group Canada, the five-foot-11, 200-plus-pound Suzuki is hoping to catch the attention of Hunter, who takes over from Dominique Ducharme, now an assistant to Julien in Montreal. His audition begins in earnest Thursday night time in Sarnia, Ont., when Suzuki will captain Group OHL in opposition to the Russian nationwide junior squad as a part of the Canada Russia Collection.
“I attempt to get to the place the puck’s going to be earlier than it is there,” says Suzuki, who was additional motivated to achieve the NHL whereas watching Vegas’ run to the Stanley Cup Ultimate from the press field. “I believe I’ve all the time been good at studying the play and utilizing my hockey IQ to interrupt up performs.”
Elite hockey sense
“His capacity to do the small issues that not lots of people discover, like creating time and area for different gamers, is next-level stuff,” says Durzi, who lives with the identical billet household as Suzuki.
A pure centre who has principally performed on the wing the previous two seasons, Suzuki believes he not solely was born with an elite hockey sense however feels he has studied the sport and seen it in another way than others his age.
Since childhood, he has admired the play of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and wears No. 37 as a result of he fashions his recreation after Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.
“I believe he is probably the greatest gamers within the NHL at stealing pucks from guys, lifting their sticks and turning defence into offence,” Suzuki says of the Bruins centre. “Crosby, simply the best way he protects the puck low [in the offensive zone]. He is most likely one of the best within the NHL utilizing his physique to protect the puck within the nook.”
In Owen Sound, Gill counts Suzuki among the many greatest at lifting the sticks of opposing gamers and retrieving pucks on a again examine.
‘Generally he creates issues that are not even there’
He has additionally tried studying the strikes of NHL star Connor McDavid, concentrating on the Edmonton Oilers ahead as he skates down the wing at high pace.
“You see Connor fly with the puck and nonetheless do wonderful issues,” mentioned Durzi, “and I believe Nick has introduced that side to his recreation. The best way he is capable of make a fantastic play or go when he is flying down the wing or by means of the center [of the ice] is second to none within the league proper now.
“Generally he creates issues that are not even there and to have that IQ is what is going on to make you an elite participant on this league and even on the subsequent degree.”
Suzuki and the Assault shall be internet hosting Erie on Saturday on the similar time Pacioretty makes an attempt to erase a poor begin with Vegas — slowed considerably by damage — that has seen the five-time 30-goal scorer discover the web simply twice in his first 11 video games after signing a four-year, $28-million US cope with the Golden Knights.
Gill continues to emphasize to Suzuki the significance of being Owen Sound’s greatest participant, best defensive ahead and high ahead each recreation. For essentially the most half, the 23rd captain in Assault historical past has responded.
“The No. 1 job within the NHL is consistency,” says the coach. “That can get you to the following degree. Nick needs to be a frontrunner, the go-to man.
“Off the ice, he is an extremely grounded individual. He is nearly a Bob Gainey-type captain the place he leads by instance on the ice and when he does speak within the dressing room, the gamers perceive they need to hear.”