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Canes Land Playmaking Center Ryan Suzuki in First Round

Suzuki was teammates with Svechnikov in Barrie

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Visit Hurricanes.com/Draft for the latest news, videos and pick-by-pick information in the 2019 NHL Draft.


VANCOUVER - As the Carolina Hurricanes waited and waited to make the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Ryan Suziki and his family waited and waited for his name to be called.

The Hurricanes approached the stage and Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald, who is retiring this year, announced the team's pick: Suzuki, a center from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.

"I think my mom was pretty nervous. It was pretty tense up in our seats, but I'm super relieved and excited," Suzuki smiled afterward. "Right now, I can't really to put into words. I think when I reflect on it maybe tomorrow or the next day I'll be able to look back and really enjoy the moment."

Video: Hurricanes draft F Ryan Suzuki No. 28

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Suzuki recorded a team-high 75 points (25g, 50a) in 65 games as an alternate captain with Barrie in the 2018-19 season. After Barrie selected him first overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Suzuki posted 44 points (14g, 30a) in his rookie campaign alongside teammate Andrei Svechnikov.

"He's a true professional. I learned a lot from him," Suzuki said of his former teammate turned teammate once again. "Everyone saw what he did on the ice, but they didn't really see all the background stuff he was doing. He was in the gym all the time. He was stretching and just taking care of himself. Just being a pro on and off the ice. That's something I can take away from him. That's what I did, and it helped me out a lot this year."

Suzuki, who said Sidney Crosby was his favorite player growing up, describes himself as a "super smart player" and a playmaking centerman who likes to be "electric" and "make plays all around the ice."

The scouting reports say as much, as well.

The Athletic's Corey Pronman praised his elite playmaking ability: "His vision is outstanding, with the ability to wait out lanes and hit passes through seams at a very high rate. He's skilled with flashes of plus hands, and he can navigate in tight spaces."

Fans will have the opportunity to see this skill in action at Prospects Development Camp, which begins Wednesday at PNC Arena. Suzuki said he's eager to get started with his new club.

"I've heard great things from Svech. They're a young team," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting down there and getting to work."

Oh, and the Storm Surge?

"It was always good fun," he said. "The fans are pretty wild there, so I'm looking forward to playing in front of them."

Video: 2019 NHL Draft: Ryan Suzuki Celebrates with Family

Until the work begins at camp next week, Suzuki is going to enjoy the moment with his family, including his brother, Nick, who was selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017 and is now in the Montreal Canadiens' system.

"He's always been my biggest role model throughout my whole career. Just seeing him, he was so happy for me," Suzuki said. "It was definitely a good moment for our family. I've got a bunch of my family here, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with them."

Nick, who played for the Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm in 2018-19, and Ryan have already squared off against each other a number of times in the OHL. Perhaps one day that friendly sibling rivalry will manifest itself in the NHL.

"We've had a good rivalry," Suzuki said. "He's beaten me a couple more times than I've beat him, but I'm looking forward to evening it out in the NHL."

The wait was tense and nerve-wracking and spanned a few hours, but in the end, the wait was worth it - for both the Hurricanes and Suzuki.

"I was definitely a little nervous getting close to the end of the first round," Suzuki said, "but Carolina believed in me."

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