About Last Night: Nick Suzuki is "the real deal", and the Canadiens are better off keeping him

Suzuki extends points streak to six games, helps Canadiens win 5-2 over Canucks

MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 10, 2020 -- Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki likes up for a face-off during second period of National Hockey League game against the Arizona Coyotes in Montreal Monday February 10, 2020. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 63909 - 7956

As the dust settled midday Saturday, 21-year-old Nick Suzuki remained a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Some fans may have been disappointed, but many others exhaled.

Hours later, those relieved fans were likely grinning from ear-to-ear as Suzuki continued his excellent scoring pace, making Canadiens history in the process.

Suzuki opened the scoring in last night’s 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, extending a points streak to six games. He’s the 10th player in Canadiens history to have a season-opening points streak spanning at least six games. He’s the second player in league history to have a six-game, season-opening points streak with every contest being away from home.

“I skated with Nick back in London (Ontario) over the break and I know exactly what he’s all about,” Canadiens forward Corey Perry said. “He’s got skill. He’s got vision. He’s got finish and he’s the real deal.”

If Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was more willing to throw caution to the wind, Suzuki might have been putting up points in a different area code. In the immediate aftermath, staying the course is proving to be the right choice.

Numerous reports had the Canadiens in pursuit of Pierre-Luc Dubois, a centre who suddenly wanted out of Columbus in favour of a change of scenery.

Some of those same reports suggested that if the Canadiens had any chance of acquiring Dubois, they’d have to part with Suzuki to make the trade work. The same Suzuki who Bergevin traded for, along with a second-round pick and Tomas Tatar, for former captain Max Pacioretty back in 2018.

Dubois (along with a draft pick) was eventually flipped to Winnipeg for Patrik Laine, a goal-scoring winger who has reached the 40-goal plateau, and a young centre in Jack Roslovic.

The Canadiens don’t have any wingers who can score as much as Laine, meaning the Canadiens might have had to sweeten their deal a bit more to acquire Dubois. So if not just Suzuki, who else? Alexander Romanov? Cole Caufield? More roster players? Draft picks? For Bergevin, the asking price may have been a bit too steep.

Fortunately, the general manager is not in a position of desperation. Through six games, he has a team with the best record and best offence. Suzuki’s points streak, his ability to be a force at both ends of the ice, and skill have played a huge role in the team’s success. He has even startedto drawcomparisons to one of the best two-way forwards in the game from media members. 

Linemate Jonathan Drouin offered his own two cents.

“He’s a mini-Patrice Bergeron in my eyes, a bit,” linemate Jonathan Drouin said after Canadiens’ 5-2 win. “He’s a player who you can have so much confidence in for so many situations. I’m on the wing. I know he’s going to do his job down low. I know he’s going to do his job on the defensive side. So, it lets me play a bit more in attack.”

Suzuki might not be the next Patrice Bergeron. But he also could be. Bergeron is among the laundry list of players the Canadiens could have takenfrom the stellar 2003 NHL Entry Draft. The Canadiens could ill-afford to move away from a potential stalwart at the centre ice position with that type of ceiling, especially at a position the team has improved in since drafting Jesperi Kotkaniemi in 2018.

This isn’t to totally downplay Dubois’s superb abilities. There’s a reason why many teams were reportedly in on Dubois, a third overall draft choice from 2016. His size, playmaking ability, and goal-scoring attributes would make many teams want to take a flyer on him. If you’re the Canadiens, however, it might mean giving up Suzuki, another valuable prospect, possibly a roster player, and even a draft pick. Or some combination of all these assets. It could still be the equivalent of parting with an arm and a leg.

The prospect of landing Dubois, but parting with valuable assets, was likely too rich for Bergevin and the team.

Many fans have appreciated Bergevin’s work in the offseason, landing new players like Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, and Joel Edmundson, among others. His aggressive approach has provided positive results in this young season.

If the team continues its run and powers through the North Division, we might look back at the trade he didn’t make as arguably his best move.

The Montreal Canadiens won’t play again until Thursday, a home game (finally) against the Calgary Flames.

How many of us had them without a regulation loss through six games, all of them on the road?

Mick Chow might have a point. This might be one of the best West Coast trips for the Canadiens in recent memory. Here’s the best of last night’s Liveblog, led by Erik Leijon!

This could be the best west coast road trip ever. — Mick Chow
This team is alot better offensively than the team that started 9-0 — Bob Cote
I know it is still [relatively] early in the season but… Where have all the naysayers gone,? There was a group preseason slagging anything and everything But now? Won’t even show their face here Says enough about them, the ones that are obviously not fans and also the ones pretending to be “honest critic fans” Good, go away, stay away This team is playing great right now — Tea Bon
What a great road trip! Price is the 5th youngest to get to 350 wins………just saying — Jim Rutherford

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