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The Flyers season ended Sunday night with a disappointing thud. In mid December, Flyers fans were hopeful that the 10 game win streak, in addition to the debuts of rookies Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, signaled that the Flyes had turned the corner and would be returning to the post season.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, and not only did the Flyers not return to the post season they played themselves out of a top 10 draft pick down the stretch finishing in the 13th position.
That does not mean they will not get a highly talented player. The Flyers are stacked with defensive prospects. Therefore, expect Hextall to select a forward with their first round pick. The Flyers are not very deep with top end forward prospects. Beyond Oskar Lindblom and German Rubtsov, the prospect pool for high end is fairly shallow.
The following is the first of a 5 part series summarizing potential selections for Hextall in the upcoming draft. Coming in at 5th is Nicholas Suzuki, the 17 year old center from Owen Sound.
Weight: 183 pounds
Team: Owen Sound Attack
Hometown: London, ON, Can
2017 Stats: Games: 65 Goals: 45 Assists: 51 Points: 96 +/-: +51
2016 Stats: Games: 63 Goals: 20 Assists: 18 Points: 38 +/-: -15
Highlights: 2015/16 OHL First Team All Rookie – WHC U17 Gold Medal
Drafted 14th overall in 2014 CHL draft
Taking Suzuki with the 13th pick could be a little of a reach. He is ranked from the upper teens to the mid 20s. However, Craig Button has Carolina taking him at 11 in his latest ranking.
Suzuki’s year to year growth was nothing short of remarkable. He more than doubled his goals and points going from 20G to 45G and 38pts to 96 points. Also, he dramatically improved his 2 way play as indicated by going from a minus -15 to a plus +51. His playoff performance also grew dynamically from the prior season where he tallied 2 points in 6 games while being a minus player at -6. This post season he has 11 points in 8 games and is plus +9.
He is not going to be a large, powerful center standing 5’11 and weighing 183 pounds, but he could easily add additional muscle to his frame without impacting his quickness on the ice. Even now he is said to be sturdy on his skates and difficult to knock off the puck.
“Though he may not be the biggest player on the ice, Suzuki plays a thick, sturdy game and is hard to knock off the puck, especially when he has his feet moving. He’s an excellent skater that knows his own game well. – See more at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=300436#sthash.COrEBxwK.dpuf”
The Flyers have several 2 way centers who are sound defensively. Suzuki is a solid 200 foot player, but is a highly skilled offensive player who can create his own chances and put the puck in the net. His 45 goals in 65 games as a 17 year old are very impressive especially while not sacrificing his defensive responsibilities.
“Suzuki is a dynamic offensive player who uses his speed and playmaking ability to impact the game. Suzuki thinks the game fast and has the hands and feet to match which makes him a projectable NHL player. Suzuki has a motor that won’t quit on plays and he is a reliable back checker he is strong on the puck, has speed and skill to burn and is a smart player, he will play in a top six role in the NHL when he is ready.” Peter Harling
I have a feeling that Suzuki is not going to go in the mid 20s. He has a well rounded game and his hockey IQ makes him a very attractive prospect. Suzuki projects to be a top 6 forward. He is only 17 so he is probably 3-4 years away, but he could be a dynamic addition to a team that is currently lacking high end prospects who can put the puck in the net.
Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson – OHL images