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Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 draft target: Nick Suzuki is everyone’s favourite sleeper

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Nick Suzuki’s numbers should garner your attention, plus he’s a versatile all-situations forward.

Owen Sound Attack v Windsor Spitfires Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

Nick Suzuki seems to be everyone’s favourite sleeper in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He posted 96 points in 65 games for the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL this season, which outscored every draft eligible player not named Nico Hischier in terms of primary points per game. He’s also a coach’s dream, boasting the versatility to contribute in all-situations. Suzuki can play both centre and right-wing, and he is one of the younger players available in this year’s draft.

When NHL Central Scouting released its 2017 Draft Prospect Rankings, Nick Suzuki ranked 10th among North American skaters. Once you add in the European skaters, it appears likely that he will be available for the Leafs at #17. Adding to this, he was not included in the top 15 of the TSN Draft Rankings. Ultimately, given his scoring production and defensive awareness, Suzuki should be ranked higher on draft boards.

The major knock on Suzuki is his skating, and he is also slightly undersized at 5’11”. He reminds me a lot of Connor Brown, as he boasts the scoring talent to play on the power play, plus the defensive abilities to play on the penalty kill. Although his skating limits his upside, he projects to be a solid middle-six forward, and his versatility makes him a rather safe selection at number 17.

Nick Suzuki By The Numbers:

Primary Points Per Game: 2016-2017

Player P1/G League
Player P1/G League
Nico Hischier 1.21 WHL
Nick Suzuki 1.17 OHL
Kailer Yamamoto 1.17 WHL
Owen Tippett 1.03 OHL
Cody Glass 0.99 OHL
Gabriel Vilardi 0.98 OHL
Jason Robertson 0.96 OHL
Nolan Patrick 0.91 WHL
Michael Rasmussen 0.88 WHL
Robert Thomas 0.76 OHL

Primary Points Per Game In Draft Year (2012-2015):

(Note: I took this from an old spreadsheet from two years ago, and these are the only CHL players with a better number in terms of primary points per game.)

Primary Points Per Game In Draft Year

Player P1/G
Player P1/G
Connor McDavid 2
Jonathan Drouin 1.55
Mitchell Marner 1.54
Nathan MacKinnon 1.45
Dylan Strome 1.43
Leon Draisaitl 1.34
Nail Yakupov 1.29
Nicolas Petan 1.29
Robby Fabbri 1.26
Nikolaj Ehlers 1.25
Sam Bennett 1.25
Anthony Beauvillier 1.19
Nikolay Goldobin 1.18
Nick Suzuki 1.17
Kailer Yamamoto 1.17
Sam Reinhart 1.17
Michael Dal Colle 1.16

A Glimpse Of Suzuki In Action:

Suzuki’s Goal of the Year:

Suzuki is a talented scorer, and although he is not a burner, there looks to be enough speed to play in the NHL.

Puck Carrying & Assist:

Puck Carrying & Wrist Shot

Suzuki is extremely patient with the puck, boasts above average vision, and is well-coordinated. In addition, he continually displays his ability to quickly change direction and cut into the middle of the ice. He does not carry a cannon of a shot, but regularly showcases his ability to pick a corner.

Quickness & Patience With The Puck:

Drop Pass Assist:

Wrist Shot:

Takeaway on the Penalty Kill & Ability To Pick A Corner:

Breakaway:

Shootout:

The Big Picture:

Suzuki carries similarities to Lias Andersson, who I profiled here. Both players are well-rounded, and represent safe selections as projected middle-6 forwards. Although Suzuki is less physical, he is quite defensively responsible for his age, and boasts enough scoring ability to chip in 20 goals. You can see his highlight reel here.

After looking at what the Leafs can expect by picking 17th, Suzuki looks like a solid pick. His scoring numbers are particularly impressive considering his later birthday, and he would become a much needed addition to Toronto’s depth up the middle. His ability to protect the puck, pick a corner, and deke out a goalie in tight makes him an attractive option for the Leafs in the middle of the first round. All in all, I expect him to be on Toronto’s shortlist.