Connect with us

Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens Analysis: Suzuki’s Breakout Year & Future Projections



Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki

It’s a highly advertised fact that Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki is enjoying the best season of his career. He’s projected to reach 35 goals and 43 assists once the 82-game regular season wraps up.

To get a better idea of how he’s putting together a season in which he reached career highs in goals and points, we need to take a closer look at which situations have yielded the best results for the 24-year-old centre, and whether the improved production is sustainable.

5v5 Production

To ensure we keep a level playing field, we will avoid raw totals and focus on points per 60 with the help of a few ugly, but easily interpreted charts.

The first graph is rather simple. It’s how many points per 60 Suzuki has produced at 5v5 since he entered the league.

Montreal Canadiens Suzuki P60

You’ll note he has enjoyed a solid season at 5v5, but it’s far from his best result. His best 5v5 production came last season when he registered his first season above two points per 60.

5v5 Production Breakdown

Of course, there are only certain things Suzuki can control when he’s on the ice.

He’s among the leaders in the NHL in primary scoring chance assists, which means we can conclude he’s doing a good job setting up his teammates with high-danger scoring chances.

But once the puck is off his blade, it’s up to his linemates to do their part, and that hasn’t necessarily been the case this season.

Cole Caufield’s downtick in scoring explains why Suzuki’s production at 5v5 has dropped this season. As you can see in the chart below, Suzuki has taken matters into his own hands by scoring more goals, but there’s been a significant reduction in both primary and secondary assists.

With slightly better shooting luck from Caufield, Suzuki’s 5v5 numbers would improve significantly. The good news is that all signs point to Caufield’s difficult season as an aberration rather than a sign of things to come.

Montreal Canadiens Suzuki p60 breakdown

Powerplay Impact

The next situation we’ll evaluate is the powerplay.

This is where Suzuki has enjoyed the biggest increase in production. He has hit a career-high in points per 60 despite the Montreal Canadiens hardly improving their powerplay efficiency this season.

Montreal Canadiens Powerplay p60

With increased powerplay production comes certain criticism. Some have suggested Suzuki is a powerplay merchant, a term used to discredit players who only seem to succeed when they’re on the man advantage.

And while it’s true Suzuki has been excellent on the powerplay, it’s not a departure from the results produced by some of the best centres in the league.

At 6.56 points per 60, Suzuki is hardly the only centre who has taken advantage of being a powerplay pillar.

For example, Connor McDavid has scored 10.6 points per 60 on the powerplay, Nathan MacKinnon is at 7.6, and Auston Matthews clocks in at 6.35.

The goal of the comparison isn’t to suggest any of these players are powerplay merchants, but rather to show that producing on the powerplay is a good thing, and most elite centres in the NHL take that route to bulk up their total points to a certain extent.

Compared to the aforementioned superstars, a higher percentage of Suzuki’s points are coming from the powerplay, to the tune of 49 percent. For reference, both McDavid and MacKinnon are at 39 percent, while Matthews is at 32 percent this season.

But beyond the lack of contributions from his linemates at 5v5, we also have to keep in mind Suzuki is younger than the players to whom he’s being compared. During McDavid’s fifth season in the league, 48 percent of his points were registered with the man advantage, essentially the same split as Suzuki this season.

Brass Tacks

With all due respect to Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky, it’s important to remember Suzuki is playing with linemates who are on pace to score 62 and 47 points, respectively, with the bulk of their scoring coming in the form of assists on goals scored by their captain.

In addition, if we broaden our search to include all 3v3 and 4v4 play, over 56 percent of Suzuki’s production has come while teams are facing each other at even strength, which once again lines up nicely with the best centres in the NHL.

The one area that does offer a legitimate red flag this season is Suzuki’s shooting percentage. It’s slightly inflated at 15.8 percent, but if we remove his first two seasons from the equation, seasons that involved limited minutes and questionable linemates, his shooting percentage makes a lot more sense.

We have enough evidence to suggest what we’re seeing now is closer to the true Nick Suzuki, rather than the rookie who scored on less than seven percent of his shots in 2019-20.

His shooting efficiency may go down slightly, but it probably won’t collapse.

What’s more, at 24 years old, Suzuki is now in his statistical prime, which means we can put a little more weight into his recent results. As we all know, the first few years in the NHL involve acclimatizing to the speed of play, not to mention the strain an entire season of professional hockey can put on an athlete’s body.

I’d even go as far as suggesting it would not be a surprise if Suzuki’s production can reach another level once Caufield’s shooting percentage returns to normal and Slafkovsky starts scoring more often, two things that seem likely based on their numbers this season.

But the most important improvement we’ve seen this season is that Suzuki has controlled the pace of play.

Relative to his teammates, Suzuki is far and away the best forward when it comes to the positive impact on shot share. He’s also among the team leaders in expected goal share. This should put an end to the notion that he only plays well on the man-advantage.

MUST READ: Suzuki Improved A Crucial Aspect Of His Play In 2023-24

Not only has Suzuki improved his production in a manner that follows suit with the elite centres in the NHL, but his underlying numbers suggest it’s sustainable.

Simply put, it seems the best is yet to come for the Montreal Canadiens’ clear-cut MVP.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are via the excellent site Natural Stat Trick.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Great analysis.

In junior, Suzuki would consistently kick it up a notch during the playoffs. I think what we’re seeing now is the direction and work of HuGo and St. Louis in bringing that same level of play on a consistent basis.


In junior, he was about 100 point guy his last 3 regular seasons, very consistent. In the playoffs he had 1 great year with 42 in 24 games, 1 down year 12 in 11, and 1 average year 23 points in 17 games in those seasons so not consistently better in the playoffs.

He is a very consistent , excellent 200’ player now and I think he’s entered his prime.


Article belittles the linemates a bit as they are pacing for 62 and 47 points respectively. Before this year Nick had 1 season above 62 and it was 66 last year. Measure him against peers- Aho and Thomas and Larkin types and not Mcdavid and Mathews.

I also think Nick will make his greatest contribution as the second line Center. While he’s competitive against most first line pivots , he would be an Alpha second line Center. So he likely never gets 100 points but a consistent ppg for the next 6-8 years is what will help differentiate us. Great player, great captain!


I disagree because the notion that Suzuki is a 2nd line C is just ludicrous. Players like Aho and Larkin are #1 C on their team and Nick is unquestionably the #1 line center for Montreal. He consistently carries the team on his back regardless of how Slaf and Cole are doing. Nick Suzuki is obviously the best player on the Habs and its not even close I also think its possible that he could eventually hit 100 points if the rest of team improves offensively. Stats don’t lie.


I think the point is that if we had a draisaitl/mck/mcD… Nick as a #2 C would dominate the matchups


Which is exactly why the team would be so good if he was our 2C!


In reference to the statement that 49 percent of Suzuki’s points have come on the power play, since he has 11 goals and 19 assists on the power play for 30 points, I calculate 42 percent.


My calculation might be inaccurate as I overlooked the fact that Nick Suzuki has 1 goal and 4 assists in overtime. Therefore 49 percent sounds correct now.