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Guy Boucher On Nick Suzuki: On ‘Top Team’, Suzuki A Third-Line Centre



Montreal Canadiens

Former Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher thinks Montreal Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki is a solid NHLer but doesn’t think he’s at the point where he’d be a No. 1 centre on a Stanley Cup contender.

“Because of the Canadiens’ current situation, we want to see him (Suzuki) as a first-line centre,” Guy Boucher said Monday on 98.5 Montréal.  “He’s a second-line centre on most teams, but, if he were on a top team in the NHL, he would be a third-line centre. He would be a third-line centre in Tampa, in Colorado and in Toronto, he’d clearly be playing behind Auston Matthews and John Tavares.”

Suzuki is having the best season of his young career with 18 goals and 33 assists in 70 games and was selected to the 2022 NHL All-Star game as the lone representative of the Montreal Canadiens. The 22-year-old, 5-foot-11, 205-pound centre has blossomed under Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Martin St. Louis. Since St. Louis’ first game behind the Canadiens bench, Suzuki has nine goals and 15 assists in 25 games. Suzuki and linemate and Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield have become one of the highest scoring duos in the NHL during that span as Caufield has 15 goals and 12 assists to bring his total to 16 goals and 19 assists in 55 games.

Based on the current centre depth for the Montreal Canadiens though – with Jake Evans, Christian Dvorak and Ryan Poehling as the other three centres – one could easily argue that Boucher has a valid point. Boucher referenced the Maple Leafs, the Lightning and the Avalanche as contenders where Suzuki would slot in at best as a third line centre.

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When healthy, the Avalanche have Nathan MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri as their top two centers, so yes Suzuki would be behind them.

When healthy, the Lightning have Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli as their top 3, so Suzuki, arguably, wouldn’t even crack the top three there.

All that being said, everything is relative and if Suzuki continues to progress at the rate he has, he will still be a No. 1 centre by the time the Montreal Canadiens can contend again.

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