NHL Mock Draft 2017: Los Angeles Kings select Nick Suzuki with 11th Overall Pick

At number 11, the Kings (okay, the Jewels from the Crown writers) opt for a slightly undersized center with slightly oversized talent.

Just our luck to fall outside of the top ten. The ten SB Nation sites ahead of us have made their selections, but in a draft without too many slam-dunk prospects, there were several options to choose from even after the following selections:

  1. New Jersey Devils, via All About The Jersey, select center Nico Hischier.
  2. Philadelphia Flyers, via Broad Street Hockey, select center Nolan Patrick.
  3. Dallas Stars, via Defending Big D, select center Casey Mittelstadt.
  4. Colorado Avalanche, via Mile High Hockey, select defenseman Miro Heiskanen.
  5. Vancouver Canucks, via Nucks Misconduct, select forward Gabriel Vilardi.
  6. Vegas Golden Knights, via Knights On Ice, select forward Owen Tippett.
  7. Arizona Coyotes, via Five For Howling, select defenseman Timothy Liljegren.
  8. Buffalo Sabres, via Die By The Blade, select defenseman Cale Makar.
  9. Detroit Red Wings, via Winging It In Motown, select center Cody Glass.
  10. The Florida Panthers, via Litter Box Cats, select winger Kristian Vesalainen

That means it’s our turn. With our dreams of a Cale-Kale defensive pairing shattered at #8 and Cody Glass failing to slip past #9, our braintrust were hoping Litter Box Cats wouldn’t take our guy. Thankfully, they didn’t.

With the 11th overall pick in the SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Jewels from the Crown is proud to select, from the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League...

Nick Suzuki 2017 NHL Draft profile | SB Nation NHL Draft Match

Nick Suzuki of the OHL's Owen Sound Attack is an impressive goal scorer and likely first round NHL Draft choice.

Posted by SB Nation NHL on Friday, June 9, 2017

Nick Suzuki.

We’re going to let the above video be our guide in telling you why we made this choice. Here were the blurbs from said video, in order:

Center Nick Suzuki is one of the top, budding offensive stars of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Let’s emphasize what a great season Suzuki had last year for the Attack. After a 38-point season in 2015-16, Suzuki exploded for 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games this season, adding another 23 points in the postseason. He increased his output as the year wore on, putting up 55 of his 96 points in the second half of the season. He ranked fourth in the OHL in goals, fifth in power play goals, and second in shorthanded goals. He was named Owen Sound’s playoff MVP and won their Fan Club and Scholastic awards as well. He cracked the OHL’s Second All-Star Team. He even won the OHL equivalent of the Lady Byng after a season with only ten penalty minutes. And yet, and in a draft which is chock-full of talented centers, there’s a decent chance he might not go in the top ten. Suzuki rose from 16th to 10th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting rankings, but there are still bigger names ahead of him. Literally and figuratively; Suzuki measures 5’11” and 183 pounds.

Extremely gifted with the puck, he is a slick passer and impressive goal scorer.

This feels like a good place for a highlight video.

Suzuki’s intelligence, tenacity and brilliant work ethic are traits that make him a potential top-six center in the NHL.

LA doesn’t need a top-six center for a couple years, but if the Kings go into any sort of rebuild down the road, Suzuki would be a nice piece to build around with Anze Kopitar (or Jeff Carter, in an alternate universe) in said top-six. Does LA’s new management team value these intangible qualities like the old one did? Probably! But how do you evaluate intelligence? For starters, that Scholastic Award is nice. Sheng Peng also made an excellent observation over at Hockey Buzz; Suzuki scored several goals by banking pucks off unsuspecting goalies this season. (Suzuki might be the white whale of LA Kings bloggers if he doesn’t get selected at #11, by the way; Jon Rosen posted a very positive profile of Suzuki as I was wrapping this piece up.) Comparing himself to Patrice Bergeron is also pretty savvy for a prospect.

Although he’s on the smaller side, he plays a big game, welcoming contact in both the offensive and defensive zones.

What about the bottom six? LA would welcome a player like Suzuki in that slot if the above is true. By the way, do you remember what OHL team Trevor Lewis played for in the year after he was drafted? It’s the Owen Sound Attack! Lewis underwent a wholesale change in his game after going pro, though, being exactly what LA wanted in their bottom six in the first half of this decade. I’d be disappointed if Suzuki did the same, as he’s got a certain spark which Lewis doesn’t.

T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals is a player that comes to mind when watching Suzuki.

Oshie isn’t a bad comparison; he’s 5’11”, has an excellent shooter’s touch, and is a versatile player although he usually plays wing. And we mentioned Lewis already. I’ll throw out a few more names, though, because what’s more fun than comparing unfinished prospects to other people?

The last time we had a pick in the SB Nation NHL mock draft, we drafted Travis Konecny 13th overall. Konecny was also a sub-six-foot OHL center with great offensive instincts, a noticeable work ethic, and an excellent second-half performance helping put him in the middle of the first round of mock drafts. Konecny slipped to #24, was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, and had an impressive (if inconsistent) debut season in the NHL in 2016-17.

Other names? Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, of course! What, your eyebrows just went up? Well, my eyebrows go up every time I see a prospect who gets knocked for his skating. You know, like Pearson and Toffoli, top-end scorers in the OHL who went outside the lottery but have made impacts for LA. Suzuki’s got a higher ceiling than either of them were projected to have. That’s cool.

For two final names, let’s find a couple guys from 2014 and see how the three years have treated them. Robby Fabbri and Jared McCann went 21st and 24th in the 2014 NHL Draft to St. Louis and Vancouver, respectively. Both players were OHL centers with a good two-way game, and like Konecny, both made their NHL teams and appeared in around 70 games after one more year in the OHL. Fabbri (who’s faster than Suzuki) looks like an NHL fixture after averaging over 0.5 points per game in his first two seasons, while McCann (who’s bigger than Suzuki) was traded to Florida and is getting the patient approach, spending most of his time in the AHL after that initial rush to the big time.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Nick! (Hypothetically.)

For more on Nick Suzuki, check out some of our network’s other scouting reports.