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A NAME FOR HIMSELF

NHL Draft prospect Ryan Suzuki has heard the comparisons, but he wants the world to know and he and his brother Nick are completely different players

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Ryan Suzuki has a brother to thank for helping push him to this point.

But as far as the comparisons go?

In his mind, they don't even apply.

"I definitely get asked a lot about my brother," Ryan said of his older bro Nick, was drafted 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, and is currently a prospect of the Montreal Canadiens. "Basically, the same questions.

"Ever I got drafted into the OHL, it's always been a comparison. It's the easiest one to make. We're both brothers and a lot of people want to know what's going on between us and how I compare to him.

"But I think we're two different players, [albeit] with a similar (foundation). We both rely on our hockey sense and that kind of gets us around."

Stylistically, the brothers may differ slightly - Nick the goal-scorer and Ryan the playmaker - but it's there in the "foundation" where the comparison rings truer than the younger Suzuki realizes.

Last year, Nick was awarded the Wayne Gretzky '99' Award as OHL Playoff MVP after leading all skaters in points with 42 (16G, 26A) in 24 games for the league champion Guelph Storm. He also voted as the 'Most Intelligent Player' in the annual OHL Coaches Poll.

 

Video: "I want to work on protecting the puck more"

 

Ryan came in fourth place.

The brothers also tied for fourth in the 'Best Hands' category.

So, maybe at play is what many would feel at this age - a classic, long-festering, but friendly sibling rivalry.

"Could be," Ryan laughed at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month. "Even here…I haven't seen [my results] yet, but once it's all over, I'll definitely take a look.

"To rub it in, yeah."

For now, neither needs to - the age gap from one just entering the big show, to another with more than two years of additional seasoning is too stark to make a fair judgment.

But in the meantime, Ryan has done everything possible to level the playing field.

The London, Ont. native had a sensational sophomore season, leading the Barrie Colts with 75 points (25G, 50A) in 65 regular-season games. He possesses great hockey sense, is effective at making plays at top speed and can make good decisions under pressure.

If all goes well - ranked 10th at the midterm, and 18th by year's end - he could become an even higher first-round selection than his brother was two summers ago.

And wouldn't that be the ultimate bragging right?

"We'll see," Ryan laughed. "It's not really something I thought about during the year, but being here now and seeing where (rankings) fell, it's kind of funny.

"I'm sure there. Could happen."

 

 

Ryan insists he has better wheels than his brother - "though I'm not sure he'd agree" - but has already pinpointed a few areas of improvement targeted for the off-season and beyond.

He's already one of the best playmakers in his age group, and is known for his other worldly-high hockey IQ and vision.

But to take the next step and graduate to the\ pro ranks one day, he wants to add muscle, protect the puck a bit better, and develop more of a shooter's mentality.

"Having the puck, holding onto it and being the guy that drives the inside," Suzuki said of goal next year.

"Those are the kind of players that excel in NHL these days.

"I think if I add a few things to the skill-set I already have, I can become one of those guys, too."

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