The following is an interview from Jack LeGwin’s “BTS Hockey Podcast” with Carolina Hurricanes prospect Ryan Suzuki. The 2019 first-round pick was having an outstanding season and has seemingly taken another step since being traded to the Saginaw Spirit midseason and teaming up with 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti to form one of the most dangerous duos in the OHL. The full episode of the BTS Hockey Podcast can be found here or on Jack’s Twitter account @JackLeGwin.
Ryan Suzuki has had quite the year.
Drafted 28th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Draft, Suzuki had an opportunity to go to Raleigh for developmental camp and he says that experience was something that he took a lot away from.
“Seeing how they work and prepare each day is a lot different than in juniors,” Suzuki said. “I respect those guys so much and how much they work, and how dedicated they are to the sport. That was the biggest thing I took away is preparation and not taking a day off. Trying to get better each day. They’re so poised with the puck, and guys like (Sebastian) Aho and (Andrei) Svechnikov protect the puck so well and wait to make plays.”
Having played with Svechnikov in the OHL with Barrie in his rookie year, Suzuki said he had a chance to catch up with the second-year stud forward from Russia.
“I went to dinner with Svech a couple times,” Suzuki said. “Mostly we were just talking about the city. We talked about how much faster the game is though. He obviously was the second overall pick and it was a hard transition for him. He just said you have to work every day. I saw how hard he worked in Barrie. The guy’s a workhorse, so if he’s doing that, there’s no reason that no one else can’t. He said it’s the preparation and the mindset going into work every day.”
Suzuki said that having someone to go to when he eventually makes it to the next level is going to be very helpful.
“It’s huge to have someone like Svech,” Suzuki said. “He can mentor me. Both of our first years were in Barrie and we had a relationship there. It was good to see him again, he showed me around Raleigh, and showed me his apartment and stuff. It’s cool to have him around.”
Suzuki said that while he is a first-round pick, he doesn’t feel any pressure from the staff in Carolina to push into the lineup, despite their high aspirations for his future.
“They just want to focus on what’s happening now and my development,” Suzuki said. “They want me to get there as fast as I can, and be up in the lineup, but it’s not an easy transition from juniors to pros. They’re taking me day-by-day and if there’s anything in my game they want me to work on, they let me know. They’re not trying to rush me in there, but they want me to play as fast as possible.”
Heading back to Barrie for the OHL after camp, Suzuki said he believed that things were going well before he took a high stick to the face and partially lost vision in an eye for a couple of days.
“It started out pretty well,” Suzuki said. “After getting sent home from Carolina, I had a lot of confidence in my game. There was a step back with my injury, but since then, everyone has been so supportive of me and helped me to get back quicker. Since I’ve been back, I’ve found some confidence in my game, obviously, it was tough getting back into the groove of everything, with the trade, I found my game.”
Getting traded from Barrie to Saginaw got the most out of Suzuki and he said that it was a chance to go to a team that could win the league.
“It’s always weird getting traded,” Suzuki said. “It was my first time (getting traded), and I was surprised at the start. Barrie was going for a younger team and Saginaw was trying to win the league. I thought it was a good opportunity for me. Saginaw had a lot of elite players on their team with Wilde coming back and (Cole) Perfetti and (Cole) Coskey as well. It was a really good opportunity for me. The coaching staff here they really like my game, and I really love it here.”
As for the future, Suzuki believes that Canes fans are in for a treat moving forward in the upcoming years.
“It shows what the fans are in for multiple years ahead,” Suzuki said. “We have a great prospect pool too, we have a lot of good young players, and it’s an exciting time for Canes fans.”
Suzuki scored 23 points in 21 games for the Barrie Colts and 35 points in 23 games for the Saginaw Spirit.
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