Golden Knights Prospect Profiles: Nick Suzuki is destined for scoring greatness
After a 96-point campaign last year for Owen Sound, the sky’s the limit for Vegas’ first-round pick.
It was at this moment when a star was born.
Nick Suzuki just fired a puck off the post and it hit the roof. Welcome aboard, rookie.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) June 27, 2017
That right-handed robust shot off the stick of Nick Suzuki was all I needed in life. The laws of physics are not designed for a hockey puck to ricochet straight into the air and clang against a light fixture, but I’m cool with it happening for that moment.
The Vegas Golden Knights would like for Suzuki to find the back of the net at T-Mobile Arena one of these days, rather than fire the puck off the post and breaking the scoreboard above center ice.
But you get the gist of what kind of player the Golden Knights got with the 13th overall selection in this summer’s NHL Draft. Suzuki, who will turn 18 years old Aug. 10, is an undersized forward that packs a wallop.
Oh, don’t worry. He scored two goals in less than three minutes during Vegas’ first developmental camp scrimmage. Suzuki is very capable of being a lethal offensive weapon, whilst taking his frustration out on roofs of ice centers.
“The game shows what kind of player I am,” Suzuki said after the June 29 scrimmage. “I feel like I’m not the best practice player, but when it comes to the games, that’s when I thrive.”
There’s something to be had when a hockey player that’s not even old enough to legally drink can account for nearly 100 points in under 70 regular season games. Yet, when the NHL released its Central Scouting grades prior to last season, Suzuki was listed as a ‘B’ prospect.
That means he was a second- or third-round draft candidate.
The world may never know if Suzuki knew about that prior to his upcoming draft-eligible season with the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL, but he didn’t play like a second- or third-round pick. The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Suzuki had a line of 45-51—96 in 65 regular season games. That’s 45 goals, 51 assists and 96 points for those keeping track at home.
Math tells us that’s 1.48 points per game. Like ... what?
Suzuki’s game skyrocketed when Owen Sound went on an astronomical 33-2-3 run to close the regular season. From Dec. 2 on, Suzuki put up a line of 29-34—63 in that 38-game stretch.
In short: Suzuki, who accumulated 96 points in 65 games, scored nearly 66 percent of his points in a time where Owen Sound hardly knew what the term ‘losing’ was.
Again ... what?
Lest we forget, Suzuki — in a playoff run that ended in the OHL Western Conference finals — had 23 points in 17 playoff games. He is a scoring machine that just happens to be undersized. If a player can accomplish what he’s sent on the ice to do, why should it matter he’s 5-foot-11? The NHL took notice of that, ranking him as the No. 10 overall prospect at the end of the year.
Given the last year, it wouldn’t shock anyone if Suzuki carries this giant chip on his shoulder that he tries to remove with every blazing shot he aims at the net.
Suzuki signed his three-year entry-level deal July 15, along with fellow first-round picks Cody Glass and Erik Brannstrom. Barring any odd sequence of events, Suzuki will be back with Owen Sound next year in hopes of building off of last year’s 102-point campaign.
One major difference when Suzuki heads back to Owen Sound will be that of the head coach. Ryan McGill stepped down June 29 to, ironically enough, join Gerard Gallant’s staff as an assistant with the Golden Knights.
“(McGill) is a detail-oriented guy,” Suzuki said. “He’s really good with the players and knows how to get the best out of them. I think he’s going to be a great fit here.”
In time, maybe Suzuki will be reunited with his former coach. Until then, his main focus will be trying to get Owen Sound further than where it was last year.
Even if that means taking out some goal posts and roofs along the way.