Detroit likely won’t have the chance to draft Suzuki, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know him now, especially if he ends up in Montreal with his brother.
Ryan Suzuki – OHL (Barrie Colts)
Birthday: May 28, 2001
Age on Draft Day: 18
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 181 lbs
2018-19 Stats: 25 G, 50 A, 75 Pts, 65 GP, 7 PIM, +7
NHL Central Scouting: 18th (Among North American Skaters)
Future Considerations: 12th
Elite Prospects: 23rd
Bob McKenzie: 12th
Craig Button: 29th
The Good Stuff
Ryan Suzuki? Name rings a bell, yeah? His older brother, Nick, was taken two years ago by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 draft, although he is now part of the Canadiens organization as part of the trade that sent Pacioretty to Sin City and Tatar to Montreal.
The first thing that strikes me about Ryan Suzuki when I watch his highlight reels is the kid loves to dangle. When he puts himself in scoring positions, he often sets himself up by leaving the puck out on a line and yanking it away before a defenseman can snag it, leaving Suzuki to open to approach the net. I think he’s going to struggle transferring this skill to higher levels for a couple reasons. Defensemen in the NHL are not going to be as aggressive with him on the puck, instead forcing him to the outside or taking the body. Good backcheckers are also going to give him less time and space to rope around with the puck.
Now, maybe I am coming down hard on this kid; I am sure he will still retain and refine some of those flashy dangling skills in the pros. But he projects as a second line center, and second line centers don’t typically become known for deking guys out of their jocks, so I’m left a little skeptical. However, that’s not what a team is going to draft Suzuki for, although his dangling does belie some excellent puck handling skills. No, teams are going to draft Suzuki for his vision and hockey IQ.
Suzuki can see the ice and read teammates well. He’s not a true goal-scorer, although he should provide good secondary scoring. Suzuki’s bread-and-butter in the NHL will have to be his play-making abilities. The kid is possibly the best set-up man of the mid-first round picks. If Suzuki gets the right linemates, he’s going to pile up a lot of assists in the NHL. He just needs someone to finish what he starts, like a Mantha-type.
But What About-?
One area that Suzuki does need to work on is his approach to physical contact. Scouting reports have suggested that he dislikes engaging in it, but compensates with positioning, especially along the half-boards. Suzuki doesn’t need to be a bruiser, but the great two-way centers can work the boards really well. Fortunately for Suzuki, this is a learnable skill, but as a fan it is not a fun learning process to watch.
With Suzuki being a scholar of the sport though, perhaps this deficiency is overblown. Just like in anything else, if the kid can learn then he is going to do good things. And perhaps his puck handling skills and positional awareness will just allow him to avoid the gritty areas of the ice as much as possible.
Suzuki is probably going somewhere in the middle of round one, which means the Red Wings are going to have better options available when they pick at sixth overall. I’m not sure he fits the template that Blashill and the Red Wings like in a player, but I think he will end up becoming a fine 2C, just not in Detroit, especially with Veleno looking like he will fill that role in a year or two.