Speedy Suzuki key to deal with Knights

For­ward could join Cana­di­ens lineup this sea­son

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - PAT HICKEY ph­[email protected] twit­ter.com/zababes1

MON­TREAL Nick Suzuki, a 19-yearold for­ward, is the key re­turn in the Mon­day trade that sent Cana­di­ens cap­tain Max Pa­cioretty to the Ve­gas Golden Knights.

The Cana­di­ens also ob­tained NHL vet­eran To­mas Tatar and a sec­ond-round draft pick next June, but gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin made it clear that Suzuki is part of the Cana­di­ens’ plan to get younger and faster.

“Ve­gas se­lected him 13th over­all and we had him at 11 on our list,” Bergevin said Mon­day be­fore tee­ing off at the Cana­di­ens’ an­nual char­ity golf tour­na­ment at Laval­sur-le-Lac. Suzuki was long gone when the Cana­di­ens picked 25th and se­lected Ryan Poehling.

Bergevin said Ve­gas gen­eral man­ager Ge­orge McPhee was re­luc­tant to give up Suzuki, but re­al­ized it was part of the price for adding a 30-goal scorer.

Mon­treal is hop­ing that Suzuki can be a 30-goal scorer as well. Scout­ing re­ports say he’s a speedy, skilled player with a nose for the net. He had 45 goals and 96 points in 65 ma­jor ju­nior games with the On­tario Hockey League’s Owen Sound At­tack in his draft year and im­proved to 100 points with 42 goals in 64 games last sea­son.

Suzuki has one year of ju­nior el­i­gi­bil­ity re­main­ing, but Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien said the young­ster will be given a chance to earn a spot in the NHL this year.

“You look at Vic­tor Mete and he came to camp last year as a 19-yearold and ev­ery­body thought he would be go­ing back to ju­nior, but he made the team,” said Julien.

Suzuki is most of­ten listed as a cen­tre, but it should be noted he put up those mon­ster numbers last sea­son as a left-winger and he was play­ing left wing at the Golden Knights’ rookie camp. He de­scribes him­self as a ver­sa­tile for­ward who can fill all three spots and it’s in­ter­est­ing to note he’s a right-handed shot who has been play­ing on his off wing. While many Euro­pean play­ers line up on the off wing, it’s rare for a North Amer­i­can player.

Tatar, 27, has scored 20 goals on four oc­ca­sions with a high of 29 in 2014-15.

Ve­gas gave up first-, sec­ond- and third-round draft choices to ac­quire the Slo­vak at the trade dead­line, but he was a dis­ap­point­ment. He had four goals and two as­sists in 20 reg­u­lar-sea­son games and ap­peared in only eight games dur­ing Ve­gas’ run to the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal with a goal and an as­sist.

Nick Suzuki

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