Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) and collegiate levels (USHL, NCAA).
After recording just one point in his two games last week, Suzuki is back to the point pace he set last season with some dominant showings in his last three games. Owen Sound managed to record two victories, losing one game in a shootout against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Suzuki finished those with eight points, and also participated in close to half of his team’s goals over those contests.
The more impressive stat is the amount of shots on net that Suzuki has managed since the start of the season, On Wednesday, he fired a ridiculous 11 shots on goal, and has a team-leading 54. This works out to 5.4 per game and puts him third in the OHL for forwards in that category, behind only Owen Tippett and Jason Robertson.
That being said, Suzuki is far down the list in high-danger shots. He is not one to constantly get attempts right at the doorstep, but instead tends to get shots from a variety of locations.
Suzuki wears #37 with the Owen Sound Attack.
Suzuki endorsed his sniper identity and pulled off shot after shot from around the top of the circle, beating the goalie cleanly on three occasions. One release hit the netting hard enough to bounce back out, looking like a typical rebound off a blocked shot.
The new Habs prospect is not a perfect shooter (only a couple of drafted prospects every year are) but he still has a great shot, probably the best in the Montreal Canadiens’ prospect pool.
His usual high goal totals in Junior — a season of 45 goals in 2016-17 and another one of 42 last year — are not the product of standing around the cage banging in rebounds as some do at this level, but instead come from his powerful and deceptive release. Combine that with his all-around skill, and his goal-scoring ability can be projected to the NHL.
Suzuki’s main quality as a shooter is his feel for the net. He doesn’t always have his head up looking at his target, but it doesn’t matter as he can pick the corners anyway. The goalie might be set, in a solid position to stop his shot with a good view of the puck, but will still hear the puck fly above his shoulder and into the cage.
The Owen Sound forward also has some common shooter tricks to help him fool goalies, like changing the angle of his release at the last second. Netminders set themselves to the location of the puck to best cover their net before a shot. If the puck is moved even slightly before firing, it makes the coverage completely off. Suzuki, by pulling the puck toward his body before firing, can catch a goalie off his marks, effectively giving himself more net to shoot at and a better chance to score.
As he showed in a sequence this week, he can also use deception before his release, creating better shooting lanes against defenders trying to get in the way. If such an opposing player is in his line of fire, Suzuki can fake his shot, make the opponent slow down and move into a blocking position, only to go around him and release from the opened lane.
He will also shoot in stride, using the weight shift motion to fire the puck with not much wind up, surprising the goalie with the speed of his release and the power that such a technique can still muster.
Here’s a video analysis of the different releases and tricks that Suzuki showed this week.
With his scoring touch, wiring more pucks on net might be a wise decision for Suzuki this season. His team will need him to put up as much offence as he can, and sometimes finishing plays himself would lead to better offensive numbers for him and Owen Sound.
On a power play Saturday night, he faked a shot and slid the puck over to a teammate who had limited time with it and got stripped of the puck as he tried to fire on net. Suzuki changed his strategy immediately and used the next two passes he received as shooting opportunities for himself.
The Canadiens are looking for scoring threats. It’s no secret. While the team has had no problem putting the puck in the net to start the season, they don’t have many players who can be labelled as “goal-scorers.” Suzuki could really help the team with his capabilities as a shooter. His release could be tweaked to be even more deadly with time, pushing the elements that already have him consistently beating goaltenders to the next level.
But his role with the Habs will only come in a year’s time. This season, what Suzuki can only focus on is continuing to put up points with Owen Sound. He has seven goals, but it’s a safe bet that this total will increase quickly in the coming weeks. He had a shooting percentage of around 16% in the past two season and is only shooting at 13% at the moment. It’s expected that a few more goals go in with things going his way on the ice.
Apart from that, there is not much more we can expect out of the Habs prospect’s play right now:
Some way too early CHL tracking project observations 75 games in:— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) October 22, 2018
Nick Suzuki (MTL) leads in just about everything.
Shot Assists/60? Of course.
Scoring Chances/60? Those too.
Scoring Chance Assists/60? You bet.
Even away from the puck, Suzuki has been a strong presence. His first goal of the week was scored from a turnover he created with a good angle on a backcheck, and he earned his empty-netter by skating hard to pressure the opposing team as they tried to regroup in the last minutes of the game.
His performance is doing nothing to stop the argument that a new CHL-AHL agreement is necessary with the apparent dominance of certain teenage prospects at the Junior level.
Joël Teasdale, LW, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Teasdale scored a great goal on what was a bit of a power move on Saturday. He stole the puck in the neutral zone, crossed the offensive blue line and cut to the net by going wide on the opponent trying to catch up to him. The usage of one hand on his stick allowed him to get the puck out of reach of pokechecks and raise his other arm to shield it even more. He switched back to two hands in time to beat the goalie.
Josh Brook, RD, Moose Jaw Warriors
Brook received a one-game suspension for his checking major last week, but he wasn’t on the ice for his team’s last two games, missing Saturday’s contest along with Friday’s. Regardless, he should be back with the team on Wednesday when the Warriors face Cole Fonstad and the Prince Albert Raiders.
Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.
CHL weekly performance
|Nick Suzuki||2017||C/RW||OHL||Owen Sound||3||4||4||8|
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||2||0||0||0|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||Suspended|
CHL season to date
|Nick Suzuki||2017||C/RW||OHL||Owen Sound||10||7||9||16|
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||13||5||6||11|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||7||4||7||11|
NCAA weekly performance
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Hockey East||Wisconsin||2||0||0||0|
|Ryan Poehling||2017||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||2||1||2||3|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||2||0||0||0|
NCAA season to date
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Hockey East||Wisconsin||4||0||1||1|
|Ryan Poehling||2017||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||4||1||4||5|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||4||1||2||3|
Goalie weekly performance
Goalie season to date