Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: Owen Sound (OHL)
One of the purest playmakers in the entire 2017 draft class, Nick Suzuki is an intense competitor who thinks the game extremely well. While strength and mass are things that all prospects can add, superior sense and instincts are items that cannot be taught. This is where the ultra-intelligent Suzuki has an edge over many of his peers, giving him a great deal of upside.
Suzuki is a heady creator who regularly enters the zone with speed, keeps his head up with impeccable strength on the puck, nimbly maneuvers his body into traffic to create different passing angles, and gets the puck to his teammates with great precision.
His soft hands make him equally adept dishing off his forehand and backhand, but he can also fill the net with the best of them with a quick release of the puck.
Suzuki's mix of high-end skill and fearlessness was the major driver to Owen Sound's successful 2016-17 campaign, with the centerman bringing out the best in his linemates en route to racking up 45 goals (4th in OHL) and 96 points (5th in OHL) in 65 contests, including three games with five or more points. Five of his 45 markers came while shorthanded.
Suzuki elevated his game in the OHL playoffs, scoring eight times on 60 total shots and adding 15 helpers in 17 postseason tilts as the Attack marched to the Western Conference final.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing issues with Suzuki's development versus his draft mates is his age. Being an August birth date, Suzuki is younger than many of the other first-round targets in a year that is heavy with highly-rated late-1998 birth dates that are nine on 10 months older than he is.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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