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Suzuki feels more confident with Golden Knights

Forward getting better, looking to make jump to NHL this season

by Danny Webster / NHL.com Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Nick Suzuki spent the year working on his overall game. As a result, the 18-year-old forward was more comfortable in his second Vegas Golden Knights development camp, which wrapped up June 30.

"It feels a bit more normal," Suzuki said. "There's some new things here within the room. I'm a little more confident on the ice."

Suzuki, who was selected by the Golden Knights in the first round (No. 13) of the 2017 NHL Draft, had 100 points (42 goals, 58 assists) in 64 games for Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League last season, finishing fourth in points and tied for third in goals. He had 96 points (45 goals, 51 assists) in 65 games in 2016-17.

 

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Although he's known to have a hard shot - he broke a light fixture last year at the Golden Knights inaugural development camp during a shooting drill - Suzuki credited his improved skating and speed as he took on more of a facilitator role this season.

"That's the way I like to play," Suzuki said. "That's the way the NHL is going. It's a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to play."

One of three players to be selected by Vegas in the first round of the 2017 draft, along with forward Cody Glass (No. 6) and defenseman Erik Brannstrom (No. 15), Suzuki is pushing to make Vegas' roster this season.

However, per the Canadian Hockey League-NHL agreement, Suzuki, who will not turn 20 until Aug. 10, 2019, will be required to play one more year in the OHL instead of in the American Hockey League if he is not called up by Vegas.

"Nick's a very good player. We call him a Swiss army knife because he can play anywhere at any situation," Golden Knights assistant director of player personnel Bob Lowes said. "His hands and his hockey sense are elite. He just continues to get better and I think he plays better with others."

Video: VGK@VAN: Suzuki roofs a nifty backhander past Demko

Nick won't be the only Suzuki in the NHL system for long as his brother Ryan, who had 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) in his first season with Barrie of the OHL, is eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Nick, who is one-quarter Japanese, said he's happy about the influx of players of Asian descent trying to make it to the NHL.

"The younger guys look up to us," he said. "They see my last name and notice a Japanese name. I think there's a lot of skill development going on there. Players are coming over to Canada to try and grow more."

As one of the Black Aces for Vegas (players who are called up when NHL teams are allowed to expand rosters for the Stanley Cup Playoffs), Suzuki got to witness its run to the Stanley Cup Final in person. It's a far cry from watching the games on TV he said, and he's hoping to be a part of the team's next run.

"You get to feel the crowd, you get to hear how loud it is," Suzuki said. "It gave me chills watching it. I found myself dreaming that I would be playing (at T-Mobile Arena) one day."

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