Is Nick Suzuki the elite center we were waiting for?

When Marc Bergevin signed him to an eight-year contract extension in 2021, he had in his vision that Nick Suzuki would become the NHL’s first elite center. The Canadian captain is celebrating the second year of this pact. What exactly?

According to data compiled by Sportlogiq, Suzuki, at 24 years old, is still among the NHL’s best forwards in a wide range of categories. The most telling thing is undoubtedly his time of possession of the puck in the offensive zone.

He controls the Canadian’s attack with the puck on his racket for an average of 57 seconds per game. Which places it at 13my eight seconds and less behind Leon Draisaitl (1:05), Mikko Rantanen (1:04), Kirill Kaprizov (1:03) and Patrick Kane (1:00). And he’s ahead of William Nylander (0:56).

If you just look at core players, he ranks sixth, behind big names like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Jack Hughes.

Controlling the puck is one thing. But if it comes to eliminating it, we are no further away. However, Suzuki maintains a turnover rate of 13.8%. This is a respectable rate, although there is still room for improvement.

However, in this category the players depend, in part, on their playing partners: given that the first unit seems more solid for almost ten games, Suzuki should gain in efficiency.

“My precious, my precious”

Martin St-Louis often repeats: “The NHL is not an easy league.” Nobody gives gifts to each other. Even less when it comes to protecting the disk. “My precious, my precious”, as Sméagol would say in Lord of the Rings.

So to get it, you need to chase the wielder, apply pressure, rush to jump on it when it’s free, and win the one-on-one battles to get it.

Also in this case, the Habs center back is among the best in his profession. With 3.03 battles won per match, he ranks 12thmy He is among the forwards, on par with Sidney Crosby, a model of reliability, and is just behind Anze Kopitar’s 3.14, another good example.

That’s what we call being in good company.

The same goes for covered washing machines. With an average of 18.9 per game, he is ahead of Leon Draisaitl (18.8) and very close to Nikita Kucherov (19.0) in addition to being able to see the leaders Auston Matthews (20.1), Kirill Kaprizov ( 20.1) and Tomas Hertl (20.1). ) not too far.

In the footsteps of Damphousse

This data confirms, contrary to what many might think, that Suzuki would be the center of the first trio of several teams on the Bettman circuit. And if he continues on this tangent, with an annual salary of $7.875 million, he risks being a boon as this deal nears completion.

If Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse were the last Habs core players to flirt with the 100-point plateau, Suzuki could very well be next. Of course, he will need a notable progression in the frequency with which he blackens the scoresheet since he has never reached 70 yet.

So far this season, he has taken a big step in that direction. With 34 points in 38 games he practically maintains the pace of one point per game. All this with Cole Caufield who was right less often than expected.

Nick SuzukiAverage per matchNHL Forward Rating

  • possession time
    zone offense 0:57 13my
  • Completed Passes
    zone offense 19.4 10my
  • Free discs recovered 18.9 9my
  • 1v1 battle
    won 3.0 13my
  • Turnover rate 13.8% 31my
  • Buts 0.31 98my
  • Goal opportunities 2.3 94my

Centers – Time of possession in the offensive zone

  • Connor McDavid 1:19
  • Nathan MacKinnon 1:16
  • Jack Hughes 1:13
  • Jack Eichel 1:11
  • Mateo Barzal 1:05
  • Nick Suzuki 0:57

CentersBattles won

  • Sean Couturier 4.14
  • Juan Tavares 3.76
  • Tomás Hertl 3.62
  • Alexander Barkov 3.42
  • Dylan Larkin3.32
  • Ryan O’Reilly 3.23
  • Vicente Trocheck 3.21
  • Adam Lowry 3.18
  • Austin Matthews 3.17
  • Anze Kopitar 3.14
  • Jordan steel 3.05
  • Nick Suzuki 3.03
  • Sidney Crosby 3.03

CentersDisk recoveries

  • Austin Matthews 20.1
  • Tomas Hertl 20.1
  • Connor McDavid 19.9
  • Roberto Tomas 19.6
  • Marcos Scheifele 19.3
  • Tim Stützle 19.1
  • Suzuki 18.9
  • Vicente Trocheck 18.7
  • Sean Couturier 18.6
  • Jack Hughes 18.5

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