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2022 Montreal Canadiens High 25 Below 25: #1 Nick Suzuki

There was a time when many didn’t anticipate the Montreal Canadiens to win a commerce through which they despatched Max Pacioretty away. Even fewer would have envisioned a state of affairs the place they did not get the participant they wished – Marc Bergevin would have requested for Cody Glass – and nonetheless win.

It seems that is precisely what occurred. Even for those who overlook the remainder of the property concerned in that horrible commerce with the Vegas Golden Knights, Nick Suzuki alone may very well be thought-about a win. He has been the crew’s main scorer yearly he has performed, main the crew outright final 12 months and through their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals a 12 months in the past. He’s arguably their greatest participant of any age, by no means thoughts the under-25 combine.

Elite Prospects

Being a frontrunner on and off the ice, it was no shock when Martin St. Louis introduced that he was the captain of the crew. Joel Edmundson and Brendan Gallagher had been touted as robust candidates – each will put on the A this season – however Suzuki made good sense as the following to be honored with the C.

With that honor comes duty, as he should lead a rebuilding crew in what is anticipated to be a really tough season. It will not be sufficient for him to simply produce offensively, he’ll even have to assist a younger group come collectively on and off the ice as he appears to place a ultimate spot behind him.

Vote

Our panel is nearly unanimous of their opinion that Suzuki is the very best participant within the group beneath 25 years of age. Anton is the one keeper, who weighed Cole Caufield’s purpose scoring energy just a bit larger than most.

High 25 Below 25 Historical past

That is Suzuki’s third consecutive 12 months as primary on our checklist, and his lowest rating was fifth again on his first kick on the pole in 2019. subsequent 12 months as his final 12 months of eligibility, and the one actual risk to his place at the moment. It is time colleague, Caufield.

Historical past #1

Yr #1
Yr #1
2021 Nick Suzuki
2020 Nick Suzuki
2019 Max Domi
2018 Jonathan Drouin
2017 Alex Galchenyuk
2016 Alex Galchenyuk
2015 Alex Galchenyuk
2014 Alex Galchenyuk
2013 In PK beneath
2012 In PK beneath
2011 Carey Worth
2010 Carey Worth

Strengths

Playmaking stands out as the very first thing folks have a tendency to note when watching Suzuki play. He strikes the puck very nicely, and is nice at utilizing misdirection on defenders to create higher passing lanes. His accuracy with these passes makes him the proper middle for an elite shooter, so it was all the time a thrill to skate him with Caufield in some unspecified time in the future.

That complete play negates some very authentic scoring potential. Suzuki has a snap shot, in addition to a wrist shot that’s lethal when he has the thoughts to make use of them. His launch is fast and misleading on his personal, and on prime of that you simply additionally need to continuously fear in regards to the danger of him messing up that shot and sliding the puck to an open participant. At greatest, it makes it extraordinarily tough for defenders to decide to something he would possibly do.

Inconsistency and misdirection are key to a lot of what he does offensively, and that’s rooted in his puck dealing with and skating. Arising in Juniors, skating was a priority in his sport, however he has improved drastically in that regard as he maintains some wow-factor strikes with the puck. His skating now enhances his stick dealing with, and permits him to create probabilities off the push much like how he does when he can sluggish issues down within the offensive zone.

Lastly, his 200-foot sport has improved rather a lot as nicely. Final 12 months was robust for everybody on the Canadiens roster, however we noticed a participant who can generate quite a lot of turnovers because of his positioning and defensive consciousness. His hockey IQ has all the time made him an efficient participant in all three zones, and with extra expertise, he ought to proceed to enhance his defensive sport.

Weaknesses

His manufacturing at even power leaves a bit to be desired at this level. After all, most of the Habs’ skaters did not excel at five-on-five manufacturing final season, however you need extra out of your top-line middle. A part of that was as a result of inconsistency of who performed reverse Cole Caufield on Suzuki’s wing.

Assuming – maybe wishing – that the teaching employees can discover a everlasting reply for that spot this season, the hope is that we’ll see extra manufacturing consequently. If they will discover somebody who actually owns that spot, it may permit Suzuki’s IQ to thrive as he finds extra inventive methods to get his identify on the scoresheet over time.

That line will seemingly take robust minutes this season, so it could be encouraging for him to have higher manufacturing in his future because the crew’s foremost pivot. To provide, he should even be robust defensively, so any step ahead in level manufacturing have to be thought-about an enormous win for the crew.

Projection

Since he’s already an NHL middle, projecting a spot within the lineup is a degree of competition. His new eight-year $7.875-million common annual contract kicks on this season, so one query some have requested is whether or not he can stay as much as that price ticket. As contracts for high-end facilities go, it is not unattainable, however it’s nonetheless just about assured over the long run.

Nearly each participant on the roster noticed a major enhance in manufacturing beneath Martin St. Louis. With a full season beneath their new coach, this development is anticipated to proceed, and may embody a powerful step ahead for Suzuki.

I’ve determined earlier than that I consider that Suzuki will lastly have a 90-point-plus season, and I stand by that perception. As he builds extra chemistry with Caufield they usually lastly show a everlasting possibility for the opposite wing, I see that line turning into an offensive juggernaut for the crew.

Nonetheless, I might argue that he doesn’t must beat my private 90-point projection to stay as much as that contract. If he can put in a everlasting vary of 70 to 80 factors by way of the deal, it is going to look extra like a discount because the wage fee begins to rise. It is a deal that would ultimately permit them to signal somebody to be a 1B middle to his 1A.


We’re joined, as custom says, by Marc Dumont of the Steve Dangle Podcast Community, who talks in regards to the checklist usually and Nick Suzuki specifically:


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