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NHL Draft

Suzuki first player of color selected in 2019 NHL Draft

Hurricanes center, who is one-quarter Japanese, joins older brother Nick in League

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

VANCOUVER -- Ryan Suzuki was chosen by the Carolina Hurricanes with the No. 28 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, the first player of color to be selected in the first round Friday.

"I'm super excited to be a part of Carolina," said Suzuki, a center for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. "I was definitely getting nervous getting close to the end of the first round, but Carolina believed in me and selected me and I'm super-honored to get down there and be with the team."

Carolina's choice potentially reunites Suzuki with Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov, who was a teammate in Barrie in 2017-18. Svechnikov had 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 82 games this season.

 

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"He's one of the greatest players I've played with in my hockey career," Suzuki said. "I've learned a lot throughout the year from him. He's a guy you can learn something from every time you step on the ice with him. I'm looking forward to kind of reuniting with him and seeing him again."

Suzuki follows his older brother Nick as a first-round pick. Nick was chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights with the No. 13 selection of the 2017 NHL Draft before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 10, 2018, as part of the package for forward Max Pacioretty.

Ryan Suzuki, who is one-quarter Japanese, led Barrie with 75 points (25 goals, 50 assists) in 65 games. Scouts consider the 18-year-old to be a more polished player than his 19-year-old brother.

"I think what we both kind of rely on in our game is our hockey sense," Ryan Suzuki said at the NHL Combine in May. "I think the way we use those abilities are different. He tends to shoot the puck a little bit more and he has that scoring mentality. … For me, my playmaking abilities are a little better than his."

Video: Hurricanes draft F Ryan Suzuki No. 28

Ryan Suzuki (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) is accustomed to the responsibility and pressure that comes with being a first-round selection. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

Being a top pick in the OHL, there's a lot of pressure on you. I think I did well under that pressure," he said. "This is just a bigger stage and a bigger scale. I dealt with the pressure before and I'm going to continue to do that."

There are at least six players of color who could be selected in the draft, which continues Saturday with rounds 2-7 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

"There are not a lot of Japanese hockey players, breaking the trend a bit is something special for me and my brother," Ryan Suzuki said. "If you can expand the culture in sports, it's a great thing to do. I think it's kind of an inspiration for maybe some other kids to kind of join hockey. I don't really think about it too much, but I think it's pretty cool."

 

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