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Barrie Colts centre Ryan Suzuki was the first overall pick in the 2017 OHL Draft. He is the brother of Montreal Canadiens prospect, Nick Suzuki. Last season, Suzuki put up 14 goals and 44 points in 64 games. He was also named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team. This year, he’s improved with 25 goals and 50 assists for 75 points in 65 games. Unfortunately for Suzuki, his Colts would fall short of making the OHL playoffs.
Suzuki has been a star for Team Canada over the course of his career. He put up three goals and four assists for seven points at last year’s Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, helping to lead Canada Red to a silver medal. He also put up one goal and seven assists for eight points in five games at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and brought home a gold medal. Suzuki and his Canadian teammates are currently preparing for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships.
Suzuki is also a cousin of famous Canadian environmental scientist David Suzuki.
Ryan Suzuki Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born May 28th, 2001 — London, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 172 lbs [183 cm / 78 kg]
Suzuki uses outstanding skating ability to create space and generate chances. He can beat defenders wide and accelerate to the front of the net with his speed. He can also change directions, or change speeds to open up passing and shooting lanes. His ability to change gears while rushing the puck up the ice allows him to fool defenders and his agility and edgework make him even more dangerous. He could stand to improve his strength and balance though. Suzuki controls the puck well in the cycle by eluding defenders and avoiding hits, however adding power and being able to fight through checks would help his game.
Suzuki sees the ice very well and processes the game quickly. He understands where teammates are headed and can make a tape-to-tape pass through tight areas. His playmaking ability is highlighted by his skill running the power play from the half boards. Suzuki uses strong stickhandling ability and quick changes in direction or speed to open up a passing lane against the defence. He can create offensive chances off the rush or in working the cycle game. Suzuki is able to slow down the play or speed it up as necessary. His ability to move the puck through the neutral zone and generate clean zone entries is particularly good.
Suzuki also has a good release on his shot but needs to add some upper body strength in order to generate more power. His wrist shot is very accurate and he can pick tight spaces. He also has a very good backhand. He is a tenacious player who forechecks hard and is willing to battle along the boards and in front of the net. Suzuki could improve his strength to be more effective in these battles though.
Suzuki could also stand to improve his work in the defensive end of the ice. This is another area of his game that would improve with added upper body strength. He is willing to support the defence down low but has problems containing big and powerful opponents. His skating and active stick really help though, especially on the penalty kill. He can create turnovers and quickly translate them into offence with a quick transition. Suzuki uses his smarts in all three zones, as he is strong positionally and reads and anticipates plays well.
Projection and Comparison
Suzuki will need time to get stronger and work on some small aspects of his game. Expect him to spend another year or two in the OHL. His skating, smarts, and playmaking ability should translate into an effective NHL player as he adds that strength. Suzuki could develop into a top-six centre, able to set up plays in the offensive end and provide a decent defensive game. His style is similar to Niklas Backstrom, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ryan Suzuki that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Main Photo: ST CATHARINES, ON – OCTOBER 11: Ryan Suzuki #61 of the Barrie Colts skates during an OHL game against the Niagara IceDogs at Meridian Centre on October 11, 2018, in St Catharines, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images Sport)