It’s expected that Junior players’ production will increase year-to-year. They become more mature physically, gain experience, and evolve as players as they learn to work around their weaknesses and to better use their strengths to dominate the opposition.
Suzuki went from 38 points in his first year with Owen Sound as a 16-year-old to 96 in his second. Selected 14th overall in the OHL draft, he was a rare player who could rise above his peers on his sheer talent. It was then hard for Suzuki to significantly improve over his 1.48 point-per-game pace in his draft year, but he did, breaking the 100-point barrier in 64 games the next season, good for 1.56 points per game.
This year, however, Suzuki was producing at around 1.50 points per game with Owen Sound. It was a small step down on a statistical perspective. The improvements were there on the ice, but it was still a cause for worry for some. This is why the prospect’s move to a team that decided to go all-in for a Memorial Cup will be good both for Suzuki’s numbers and to alleviate some of the doubts.
The Guelph Storm don’t have the roster of some of the stacked Junior teams we have seen in the past, but the trades they made like acquiring Suzuki, a solid defenceman and friend of the Habs prospect in Sean Durzi, and players capable of scoring in Pavel Gogolev and Mackenzie Entwistle, should have them compete with the best.
Suzuki has eight points in three games in his start with the Storm — almost a point per period — and he should continue to pick up assists as he feed the talent around him.
Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph’s previous top forward, and Suzuki seem to have already developed a chemistry. Ratcliffe had a hat trick on Sunday, while Suzuki assisted on two of his goals and added two more, en route to an 8-4 victory over another top team in the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s.
One of the Habs prospect’s assist was an impressive display of skill, the likes of which we have seen many times this season already. On a 2-on-1, he cut to the middle of the ice as he entered the offensive zone, toe-dragged in front of the defender, and slid the puck over to Ratcliffe, who wired the puck past the goalie short-side.
But this play was probably only the second-most impressive one after Suzuki’s overtime goal in his first game with Guelph, when he dangled around a defenceman, circled the net, and fired the puck up top as he came out the other side.
Hopefully we see Suzuki play for a while this spring with the Storm and continue to fill his highlight reel.
Joël Teasdale, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Teasdale is another player who is benefiting from a change of scenery. He was carrying the offence of Blainville-Boisbriand in the first half of the season. Now, he is just one of the pieces with the Huskies, and has seven points in three games, including two goals. His ability to find soft spots around the net, or get there with his shifty hands, remains the driving factor behind his production.
The Huskies have also added Noah Dobson in their mid-season shopping spree. The team now has a very strong core and is poised to go far in the post-season.
Jarret Tyszka, LD, Seattle Thunderbirds / Josh Brook, RD, Moose Jaw Warriors
Tyszka’s won his matchup withJosh Brook on Friday. The Seattle Thunderbirds earned a 7-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Brook must have played close to 30 minutes in a losing effort, rotating on every pair, and once again spending time on his off-side next to Jett Woo, the Warriors’ second-best defenceman. He recorded an assist on one of his team’s two goals on the power play.
Brook displayed better puck-moving decisions in this game after struggling in that aspect upon returning from the World Juniors. Fatigue was likely an important factor in the dip of performance that followed the event. Still, despite his best contributions, the defenceman couldn’t prevent the game from slipping away from his team.
Tyszka wasn’t used as much as Brook, but he managed to earn one more point, getting an assist by distributing the puck on the power play and scoring a goal on the rush. The Habs’ fifth-rounder never forfeits an occasion to jump into the offence, and is as effective as most of his team’s forwards when he crosses the offensive blue line.
On that play, he controlled his skating to present himself as a drop-pass option, looked behind him to gauge the space he had, and skated to the net when he saw the opportunity. He then beat the goalie with a well-placed wrister.
Tyszka used this weapon again the next day against the Swift Current Broncos. He fired from the blue line off an offensive-zone faceoff. The puck flew through traffic and above the goalie’s shoulder.
The Thunderbirds defenceman has 12 points in 15 games. A good total considering he just came back from an injury. However, his play still hasn’t recovered fully. He generates offence, but just as many turnovers. He is forcing plays that aren’t there and keeping the puck too long under pressure. His poise never left, but his sense of timing isn’t as sharp as last season. It will probably take time before we see the solid defenceman that he was at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Allan McShane, C, Oshawa Generals
In a 6-5 overtime win by the Generals over the Peterborough Petes, Allan McShane recorded four points. It concluded a stretch of 15 points in 7 games that has him flirting with the point-per-game mark despite being left pointless in his last two contest.
Since being moved up to centre the top line of the Generals, McShane has been excellent. This game against the Petes was a great showcase of his improvements. He recorded his points in a variety of ways: deceptive and creative passes, rushing the net, and one on a breakaway.
Allan McShane wears #61 with the Oshawa Generals
He is growing into a more complete player, also winning 57.1% of his faceoffs since the OHL’s Christmas break.
Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates.
CHL season to date
|Joël Teasdale||FA||LW||QMJHL||BLB / ROU||41||21||24||45|
|Nick Suzuki||2017||C/RW||OHL||OS / GUE||33||23||30||53|
|Cole Fonstad||2018||LW||WHL||Prince Albert||44||17||28||45|
|Josh Brook||2017||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||32||9||35||44|
NCAA season to date
|Jack Gorniak||2018||LW||Big Ten||Wisconsin||20||2||5||7|
|Ryan Poehling||2017||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||18||3||14||17|
|Jordan Harris||2018||LD||Hockey East||Northeastern||19||1||6||7|
Cayden Primeau’s season to date