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Suzuki Wants Another Championship

May 14, 2019, 5:55 PM ET [459 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Back in September, the Canadiens finally managed to deal their captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights in return for Tomas Tatar (a supposed throw-in), Nick Suzuki (the main piece of the trade) and a second round pick in the upcoming draft. While Tatar has turned out to be anything but a throw-in having a career year wearing the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge, the excitement over Suzuki is building up. Selected 13th overall by the Golden Knights at the 2017 draft, he was the 10th best prospect in North America in the final prospects standings.

An attendee at the Canadiens' training camp last fall, Suzuki was sent back to his junior team the Owen Sound Attack so that he could gain experience and he sure did. He took part in the World Junior Championships and was then traded to the Guelph's Storm in January. During the 2018-2019 season, he collected 34 goals, 60 assists for 94 points which was good for the 11th rank in the OHL. That was quite respectable but the best was to come for the youngster.

It is often said that it's important in sports to "know how to win" and he sure learnt a lot about that this post season. The Storm finished the regular season with 90 points, the 8th team in the OHL standings and faced the Kitchener Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. They made short work of the Kitchener outfit, sweeping them in 4 games and therefore earning the right to face the London Knights in the second round. The Dale Hunter lead team took a 3-0 lead on Guelph but Suzuki and co. came storming back winning the next 4 games and moving on to the 3rd round. Then, they were down 2-0 and 3-1 to the Saginaw Spirit before sealing the deal in 7 games and reaching the final where they took on the Ottawa 67's and triumphing in 6 games.

While the team's road to the championship was very impressive indeed, Suzuki's contribution was nothing short of amazing. In 24 games, he gathered 42 points (16 goals and 26 assists) including 4 game winning goals for an average of 1.75 points per game played in the postseason. His nearest rival only had 31 points (granted he had played 6 games less) and his nearest teammate had 30 points. It was therefore not surprising to see him crowned as the playoffs' most valuable player receiving the Wayne Gretzky "99" award as such. While success at the junior level is no guaranty of success in the NHL, the previous recipients of the award have generally done pretty well for themselves.

While some ended up playing in Europe, there are some notable names in that list of winners. Derek Roy, Corey Perry, Marc Staal, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Bo Horvat, Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner are all established NHLers. While Robert Thomas and Warren Foegele are currently playing in the Conference finals and starting to make their mark. It's hard to tell at this stage whether or not Suzuki will be able to follow in their footsteps but right now, Habs fans are allowed to dream that he will.

The Memorial Cup tournament will take place from May 16th to May 26th and the Storm will play their first game against the host Halifax Mooseheads on Sunday the 19th. Since the Habs have long stopped skating, it will be nice to be able to cheer on a few of their prospects as Joel Teasdale and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will be playing as well as Cole Fonstad and his Prince Albert Raiders. Speaking of Teasdale, he lead the LHJMQ in points during the playoffs and we shall discuss him later this week.

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