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Suzuki not in rush to make Hurricanes roster

Center, No. 28 pick in 2019 Draft, expected to hone playmaking skills in OHL this season

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ryan Suzuki may need some time to reach the NHL, but the Carolina Hurricanes are hoping the No. 28 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft will one day become a high-end center.

The 18-year-old got his first taste of the Hurricanes organization during development camp in June. He leaned on his 19-year-old brother, Nick Suzuki, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights with the No. 13 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft who has since been traded to the Montreal Canadiens, to know what to expect.

"I definitely asked a lot of questions," Ryan Suzuki said about conversations with his brother, who split last season between Owen Sound and Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League. "He just told me, 'They pick you for a reason, so you've just to play your game and enjoy the week.'"

Ryan Suzuki is a pass-first center, adept at finding lanes for cross-ice feeds to teammates, but his skill set has made him an all-around point producer in juniors. He had 75 points (25 goals, 50 assists) in 65 games last season with Barrie of the OHL. In addition to his passing, he can create space to get his shot off in traffic and finish rebounds at the net.

"The next couple camps, I'll really get to see how my playmaking works out," he said. "I have confidence in myself and I believe I can make plays at the next level. I just need to kind of round out my game a little bit more and shoot the puck more than I have been."

Video: Hurricanes draft F Ryan Suzuki No. 28

The Hurricanes are being patient regarding Suzuki's future.

"I don't think you're projecting any of these kids to come into your lineup next year," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said, "but for him, you hope for a playmaking center who can make our team better. That's essentially what he is."

When he's ready for the NHL, Suzuki is anticipating a reunion with former Barrie teammate Andrei Svechnikov, selected by the Hurricanes with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The forward had 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 82 games in his rookie season.

"I got the privilege of seeing him work off the ice," Suzuki said. "He's a true professional. He does everything the right way. Just me going in as a 16-year-old in Barrie, already having Andrei there, I got to see how he works. I saw what it took to get to this position, so there's a lot you can learn from that guy."

Suzuki knows Carolina can afford to be patient with him, so he's prepared to return to juniors for a third season.

"Obviously you want to get in [the NHL] as quick as you can," Suzuki said. "The OHL is a great league to push you toward your goals. If it doesn't work out [with the Hurricanes] this year, I've got Barrie to go back to. They're a great organization. Doing all the work down there will help me and benefit me pushing to the NHL."



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