The Montreal Canadiens have gotten off to a great start so far this season, with players like Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Jonathan Drouin and Jeff Petry all getting off to fast starts, which has led to Montreal’s success this season. When looking at who’s going to be the next big superstar on the Habs, the first name that comes to mind is Nick Suzuki. Yes, there are a lot of candidates for this spot like Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli, however, with Toffoli, eight of his nine goals have come against his former team in the Vancouver Canucks.
I’d like to see him continue his offensive prowess against other teams before I’d consider giving him superstar status, and with Gallagher, I think he’s definitely in the discussion, but I’d give the slightest of edges to Suzuki.
The Deal That Started It All
In September 2018, the Montreal Canadiens traded Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second-round pick in the 2019 Draft. That later became Alexander Romanov. Tatar has played in 158 games for the Montreal, racking up 50 goals and 75 assists for 125 points, including a career-high 61 points last season.
Romanov is emerging as a top-four defensemen for the Habs and has shown a lot of promise through ten games, picking up a goal as well as an assist. Romanov’s currently averaging close to 18 and a half minutes of ice time. Now let’s look at Nick Suzuki, who is emerging as the centrepiece of the return for Montreal.
The London, Ontario native made his debut with the Canadiens last season, where he skated in 71 games, recording 13 goals along with 28 assists. He did that for 41 points. But it would be in the playoffs where he’d start to break out.
In 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Suzuki has recorded seven points, having scored four goals along with three assists. Those seven points were tied for the team lead with Jonathan Drouin and that success has carried into this season. Through the first 10 games this season, Suzuki has tallied a point in nine of those games and the only game he didn’t record a point in was when the Habs were shutout by the Calgary Flames.
That seven-game point streak is the fifth-longest streak by a Montreal Canadien to begin the season. His line currently has an Xgoals% of 73.3 percent this season, which is second in the NHL behind the Blues’ Schwartz-Schenn-Kyrou line, which is at 76.1% through eight games.
New Line-mates Helping Suzuki Thrive
There are a lot of factors that have played into his success and one of the biggest would be his line-mates. Last season, there really wasn’t much expected out of this team and it was going to be a year to get a few of the younger guys like Suzuki, Ryan Poehling, Jake Evans and Cale Fleury all some ice time. I think with the expectations for this team a lot higher, and Suzuki and Evans becoming regulars in a lineup, the goal of last season was achieved despite being eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jonathan Drouin has finally started to find his form as a Hab and has a goal and eight assists through the first ten games of the season. Josh Anderson is playing like the Josh Anderson he was before his shoulder surgery, which saw him limited to only 26 games. Both Drouin and Anderson are locked in for at least the next three seasons, and for Suzuki, it’s been known that he’s not going anywhere, as his name was one that was mentioned in a possible package to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from Columbus. There’s no doubt that this is Montreal’s best line at the moment and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
How Important Is Suzuki To The Canadiens
When you look at the Montreal Canadiens, it’s obvious they have a lot of important pieces along with Suzuki in Carey Price, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher. I think that at this current time, he’s the second most important piece behind goaltender Carey Price. The Habs made a lot of depth moves this season to fill in some holes from last season and to get bigger overall.
Jeff Petry is starting to emerge as the true number two defensemen this year and both Joel Edmundson and Alexander Romanov have finally added some well-needed depth that was missing on the hockey club’s blue line.
The forward core has obviously gotten a lot stronger with the additions of Corey Perry, Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson. It’s basically the next man up type of deal for the Habs, as they also have Ryan Poehling on the taxi squad. However, losing a guy like Suzuki would be almost impossible to replace.
He’s been a big part of the Habs power play this season, along with Shea Weber, and has a killer of a shot and teams are making sure that Weber is covered, which is allowing Suzuki, at times, to quarterback the power play. It’s time for fans of the Canadiens to get excited about their young new superstar.