Nick Suzuki was asked after the Canadiens’ Red vs. White scrimmage Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre to pick a word to describe the last week of his life.
“It’s just pretty crazy. So crazy, I guess,” said the 19-year-old forward who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights last Monday as part of the Max Pacioretty trade.
Suzuki played centre Sunday for the White team — which won 4-3 — between Paul Byron and Nikita Scherbak and showed some soft hands with the puck that helped him post 42-58-100 totals in 64 games last season with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
“I think we have a lot of speed,” Suzuki said about his line. “I think there’s a lot of skill out there, too. Obviously, Byron’s pretty fast and he hunts pucks really well. Scherby hunts pucks as well and I think he’s got an under-rated shot. I think we work pretty well together and just moving forward if we get the chance to play together I think it will be better.”
The Golden Knights selected Suzuki in the first round (13th overall) at the 2017 NHL Draft. His family name will be familiar to many Canadians who know about David Suzuki, the award-winning geneticist and broadcaster who has written or co-authored more than 50 books and co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation which empowers people to take action in their communities on environmental challenges.
“He is my grandpa’s cousin,” Nick said about David Suzuki. “Not immediate (family). I met him once, but it was a long time ago at a family reunion. I don’t really remember it, but my parents do.”
Now Nick is looking to make a name for himself with the Canadiens. He can play both wing and centre, but the Canadiens want to look at the 5-foot-11, 183-pounder as a centre and GM Marc Bergevin hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the teenager making the team this season. If Suzuki gets cut, he will return to Owen Sound for a fourth season with the Attack.
“They want to see how I do with NHL players,” Suzuki said about Canadiens management. “The line has been working well so far. I think if we get the chance to play together again we’ll do better. I think they have trust in me right now and I just want to keep that going.
“Centre is my first position that I ever played,” Suzuki added. “I’m most comfortable there and I think they want me to move forward as a centreman and I’m just going to do everything that I can to be the best centre for them. I think I can play that position well and I just want to prove that I can play centre in the NHL. … I know I haven’t been slotted in the centre position in junior the last couple of years, but I basically shuffle from centre to right wing with my centreman in Owen Sound. It’s not like I haven’t played centre. I think it’s really good that they want me to play centre and see me as a centreman and I’m just going to do my best there.”
Suzuki said he enjoyed his first experience of playing at the Bell Centre in Sunday’s scrimmage.
“The atmosphere was great,” he said. “The crowd was getting loud for both teams with each goal. It’s just going to be a lot more fun when there’s only one Canadiens team out there. But I thought the atmosphere was great right from the start and is just kept going throughout the game.
“It was a lot of fun and I really want to do it again.”