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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day Four

Suzuki would love to team with brother in League; Foote working to create own niche

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2019 NHL Scouting Combine is taking place this week at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo. The combine will allow NHL teams an opportunity to conduct interviews and provide physical and medical assessments of 103 top prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. NHL.com will bring you all the sights and sounds.

BUFFALO -- Ryan Suzuki isn't sure how well he'll do at fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine on Saturday, but he has a special set of benchmarks.

Suzuki's brother, Montreal Canadiens center prospect Nick Suzuki, went through the combine testing in 2017.

"I'll have to go back and check out his scores," said Ryan, a forward with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. "If I beat him in anything, I'll definitely let him know about it."

 

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The sibling rivalry also extends to the ice. Ryan played against Nick, who split the season between Owen Sound and Guelph, six times.

"It's pretty weird seeing him on the other team, playing against him," Ryan said. "Didn't really get matched up against him too much my first year but this season my line was against his line most of the time.

"He made my job tough, but I made his job a little tough. First game we played each other he came by our bench and tapped my shin pads and the ref gave him a slashing penalty, which is pretty funny. At first it was weird playing him but at the end of the day it's just another game."

Their parents have said no fighting on the ice, but Ryan said they always manage to pair off if there's a scrum. 

"The one time [Nick] grabbed me on one side of my jersey and his other teammate who I know grabbed me on this side and my brother pulled and it split my jersey right down the middle," Ryan said. "So I had to play the rest of the game with a split jersey. I think there were a couple funny things that have happened when we've come against each other."

They've never been teammates, but Ryan (6-foot, 176 pounds) said he's allowed the possibility to enter his mind. He's No. 18 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2019 NHL Draft, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. Nick was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights with the No. 13 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft and traded to the Canadiens as part of the package to acquire forward Max Pacioretty on Sept. 9, 2018.

"It would be unreal to go there and hang out with my brother and play with my brother," Ryan said. "I've never had a chance to play with him. I've practiced on the ice with him but never played with him. I think we'd play really well together. ... At the end of the day it's hockey and it doesn't really matter where I go. I'm just excited for the whole draft experience and to go to the team that drafts me."

 

First-round feedback

Brett Leason was passed over in the draft the past two seasons, but it's expected the forward with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League will be selected in the lower half of the first round next month.

Leason had 89 points (36 goals, 53 assists) in 55 games and helped Prince Albert win the WHL championship and reach the Memorial Cup. He's No. 25 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

"It's pretty amazing," Leason said. "To be here, never would have expected it at the start of the year, so this is something special."

What's made Leason so appealing is the improvement in his speed and skating to go with the hands, power-forward size (6-4, 200 pounds) and offensive ability that he always had.

"He's a guy that we've always had time for," said Central Scouting's John Williams, who evaluates WHL prospects. "You talk to team scouts, and you always appreciate a kid that has that size, he's always had the good hands. He just had trouble with the pace. ... I think he realized that his own game needed to improve in that way, he needed to improve his skating, he got faster, and he obviously worked very hard at that and improved a great deal."

 

Scout's honor

Sweden-born defensemen Victor Soderstrom and Phillip Broberg are expected to be chosen high in the first round of the draft, but each brings very different skill sets.

Soderstrom, No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters, had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 44 games with Brynas in the Swedish Hockey League. Broberg, No. 5, had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 41 games with AIK in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division.

Each starred for Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, but Soderstrom (5-11, 179 pounds) missed the final three games because of a concussion. Broberg (6-2, 199) was named the tournament's best defenseman.

"Broberg is perhaps a rawer prospect," director of NHL European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He's very strong. An excellent skater, he's flying on the ice. Soderstrom is more of a finesse-type of player. ... Broberg is a skater, Soderstrom is more of a playmaker, finesse type of player. Both have that advantage in that they played a full season of senior hockey."

 

Top underrated prospect

Forward Nolan Foote of Kelowna (WHL) has a familiar last name. His father is two-time Stanley Cup champion Adam Foote and his older brother is Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman prospect Callan Foote. But he's done a solid job carving his place as a candidate to be picked in the first two rounds of the draft.

The 6-3, 190-pound left wing had 63 points (36 goals, 27 assists) in 66 games this season and is No. 37 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

"He's a guy that I think has improved his overall game," Williams said. "He's got a great shot, size, he's shown that he can score. This year the team wasn't as good and he was put into a different role than he was in the past. He had to do a lot more in terms of playing in all situations. He's become a very good penalty killer, great reach and the hands that go with it, so he can make plays defensively as well as offensively. Big body that's hard to handle. His overall game has really improved. He's a guy that can potentially play up and down your lineup because of it."

 

Question of the day

Suzuki said one team asked him if he could tell a joke. 

Under pressure he came up with "just a dad joke. Not too funny, just so dumb it ends up being funny."

The joke?

"What's orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot."

 

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