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2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Ryan Suzuki

What’s his game like? Can anyone say Niklas Backstrom?

Barrie Colts v Niagara IceDogs Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

As the 2019 NHL Entry Draft approaches, the Los Angeles Kings have their work cut out for them, including making decisions on two first-round picks: the fifth pick and the 22nd pick, thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs. From now until the draft, the staff of Jewels from the Crown will be taking a look at some draft-eligible players to help introduce some young men who could very possibly be future Kings.


“With the 22nd pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings select, from the Barrie Colts in the OHL, Ryan Suzuki.”

As one of the smartest OHL prospects seen in years, Suzuki was once projected to be a top 10 pick, but after a terrible 2018 playoffs (being kind) followed by a season where he failed to take it to next level, it looks like he might slide perfectly into the 22nd slot where he could be scooped up by the black and white. But, before we get into the strengths and weaknesses, let’s get the basics out of the way…


Born: May 28, 2001 (Age 17)
Place of Birth: London, Ontario, Canada
Position: C
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: Left

2018-19 Season: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Regular Season: 65 Games, 75 Points (25G, 50A), 14 PIM
Playoffs: 12 Games, 4 Points (1G, 3A), 2 PIM


#18—NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (North American Skaters)


Ryan Suzuki is an elite passer with outstanding skating ability and is excellent at finding the right spots on the ice to score. Though not a physical player, he is very good at avoiding contact and taking the big hit. He has soft hands and a high-level all-around ice vision. He has an uncanny ability to shift gears while rushing the puck, which effectively fools defenders. His quickness and agility makes him even more dangerous in the offensive zone.

Suzuki sees the ice extremely well and seems to always make tape-to-tape passes through impossibly thin passing windows. His playmaking ability is at the top of this draft class. He can create offensive chances in an up tempo or methodical game with a knack for slowing down play or speeding it up as needed.


Though the numbers show differently—I mean more than a point-per-game is certainly the target—2018-19 wasn’t a showcase season for Suzuki. Seemingly, he was caught overthinking the upcoming draft looking for the perfect play every time, on every shift. He hasn’t elevated to a take-over-a-game plateau you want to see your prospect land if you’re going to use a first round pick. It didn’t help he was the best player on a bad team by a wide stretch. There was a 25-point differential behind him and the coach’s 21-year-old son.

A change of scenery and proper coaching will help him in droves. His signature delays and toe drag will be less effective at the NHL level. He also needs some more seasoning at the defensive end where opponents have taken advantage of his lack of top-end strength. The good news is that he does show a willingness to support the defense down low, which is half the battle to begin with.


Have we mentioned lately how thin the Kings are at center? Well they are very thin and selecting a brilliant playmaker likened to a young Nicklas Backstrom seem to be just what Todd McLellan needs to make the Kings competitive on the fly in the middle of this rebuild reset. What’s not certain is if he will slide all the way to twenty-two and if the Kings want a pass first, shoot second centerman in this spot.


“Ryan’s playmaking abilities border on elite. He can deliver a tape-to-tape pass or lead a teammate with a pass. The fact that 29 of his assists are primary assists speaks to the fact that he can deliver the disc for a scoring threat. He thinks the game so well and has excellent anticipation that he can steal the puck defending and go on the attack in a flash. Defensively he understands the game and works hard at it. You won’t find many coming back on the back check harder than he does.” – Dominic Tiano/OHL Writers