As the first-overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, attention tends to follow Ryan Suzuki regardless of where he plays.
A former standout with the London Jr. Knights, Suzuki enjoyed a solid rookie season with the Barrie Colts in 2017-18 — scoring 14 goals and adding 30 assists for a total of 44 points. Although he didn’t claim any notable individual awards, Suzuki’s campaign proved to be a promising one considering the depth of the Colts’ roster and his incredible composure with the puck.
Extremely calculative while in possession and rarely pressured into making mistakes, Suzuki’s seemingly veteran style of play mixed with his lethal offensive upside immediately garnered comparisons to another current OHL-star — the youngster’s brother and Owen Sound Attack sniper Nick Suzuki.
Although they do boast their differences, both Suzuki and his older brother are remarkably similar players. Of average height and weight, the brothers are endlessly intelligent and creative on the ice — an ability which drives both players’ offensive games.
However, given their similarities, this begs one ultimate question: can the younger Suzuki become a more talented and promising player than his older brother?
The Surging Suzuki Sibling Rivalry
Although they are family, there is no question that the Suzuki brothers are incredibly competitive and strive to out-duel one another.
On one hand, there is the oldest Suzuki.
As a first-round choice of the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft, Nick seemingly holds the distinct advantage in the sibling rivalry. Although Ryan is slated to be selected in the coming 2019 NHL Draft, Nick boasts the bragging rights — and will continue to do so if Ryan fails to hear his name called earlier than Nick did at 13th overall.
What’s more is that the elder Suzuki has two dynamite OHL seasons in-hand. In 2016-17, Suzuki potted a whopping 45 goals and 96 points for the Attack before adding another 42 goals and 100 points for Owen Sound last season. Further, Suzuki owns two William Hanley Trophies as the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player — he’s collected just 32 penalty minutes thus far in his 192-game career.
Then, on the other hand, we have the younger of the two brothers.
Although he only has one OHL season under his belt, Ryan’s inaugural campaign was incredibly impressive and one which cemented the native of London, Ontario as a potential top-10 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Despite drawing less ice time than he arguably would have garnered with different franchises throughout the OHL, the younger Suzuki made the most of his playing time as a rookie and was able to leave a lasting impression. As an immensely intelligent player, Suzuki’s playmaking abilities were regularly on full display — his willingness to saucer passes through traffic with success was a treat to watch.
Further, Suzuki established himself as a prospect who refuses to buckle under pressure. Routinely utilized on Barrie’s power-play and in high-pressure situations, Suzuki’s patience and willingness to wait for high-percentage scoring chances to develop helped to drive the Colts’ man-advantage — Barrie concluded the 2017-18 regular season with the OHL’s sixth-best power-play.
So, although he doesn’t hold any hardware, Suzuki is evidently well on his way to becoming as good as — if not better than — his older brother. Sure, he needs to strengthen his frame and improve his shot — two weaknesses which will improve with physical maturity — however, the fact remains that Suzuki is staring down a lucrative career at the NHL-level.
And, although he and his brother play in opposite OHL Conferences, the personal drive to improve shared by the two on a nightly basis is endlessly inspiring