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

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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.

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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Billy739

This is naive and assumes you need a super team with 2 HOF Centers for a Cup.
Wasnt the case with LAK,BOS,CHI, STL and WSH.

Kopitar was really good but a 60-70 point player on a deep team.
While clearly different players Suzuki can meet that production now.
Sure he wasnt the Natural Faceoff Center Kopitar was at his age.
But now that Suzuki’s caught up in that area he finished with 61pts

I suggest he’s somewhere between a Bergeron or Kopitar.
Bergeron had a duo with Krejci that provided him a boost.
Kopitar didnt truly step up until Richards and Carter arrived

That said Dvorak under MSL is played at 3rd C not 2nd.
As such he produced 18 pts in 22 games of IR under his new coach.
Pitlick jumped from 13-18 mins to 18-23 mins in a 2nd C role

You can do it without what you’re suggesting
Thats said Possesion Centers with 53-55% atleast 2-3 lines deep is
The minimum requirement to accomplish a task from 2010-now

We’d have to use Evans to upgrade to Monahan hoping he bonds with Dach.
Dach’s only chance at success as Center is to have a mentor like that.
Someone who can take C until he’s ready to do more then just secondary draws.

Last edited 3 months ago by Billy739

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