Ryan Suzuki will soon be heading to North Carolina, where he'll join former teammate Andrei Svechnikov on a team that turned a lot of heads in the NHL playoffs and became lovingly known as the 'Bunch of Jerks' following a Don Cherry quip.
The Barrie Colts centre was selected 28th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night in Vancouver.
Suzuki was ranked 18th overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The London, Ont., native had been ranked as high as 10th in the midterm report.
Listed at six-foot-one and 180 pounds, the 18-year-old Suzuki was an alternate captain with the struggling Colts this past season, his second year with the team, where he led the team offensively with 25 goals and 50 assists for 75 points in 65 games.
The Colts failed to qualify for the OHL playoffs this past season, finishing with a 26-38-3-1 record, seven points out of the final playoff spot.
According to his profile at NHL.com, Suzuki models his game after Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom.
Suzuki's older brother, Nick, is a prospect with the Montreal Canadiens.
On Friday night, American phenom Jack Hughes was taken first overall by the New Jersey Devils, followed by Finnish forward Kaapo Kakko going to the New York Rangers at No. 2. The top OHLer to be drafted was Mississauga Steelheads defenceman Thomas Harley, who went 18th overall to the Dallas Stars.
The remainder of the draft will be held on Saturday.
Suzuki was selected first overall by the Colts in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. In his rookie year, Suzuki was named to the OHL's second all-rookie team after finishing seventh among first-year skaters with 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points in 64 games.
Suzuki has competed internationally for Canada. He finished in a tie for fifth in tournament scoring to help Canada Red win silver at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, scoring three goals and adding four assists in six games.
He was also third in points (one goal and seven assists in five games) at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup as Team Canada captured gold.
In April, Suzuki pulled on the maple leaf sweater at the 2019 under-18 world championship in Sweden. He had one assist in five games. Canada lost 5-2 to the United States in the bronze-medal game.
The Barrie Colts, who finished 17th overall in the 20-team league this past season and missed the playoffs, also have a pair of defencemen, Nathan Allensen and Jack York, listed in the rankings for North American skaters.
York, an Ottawa native who had six goals and 11 assists in 33 games with the Colts after coming over from the Kitchener Rangers, is ranked 213th, a drop of one spot from the midterm report, while Allensen, an 18-year-old Waterloo native, is ranked 214th, dropping from 186th at the midway point of the season.
Allensen, who has played two seasons with the Colts, had four goals and 16 assists in 67 games with the team this past season.
Barrie goalie Jet Greaves, who posted a 7-12-1 record in his rookie season, as well as a .911 save percentage and a 3.36 goals-against average, is ranked 28th among North American netminders.
AT A GLANCE
Barrie Colts taken in the first round:
2018, 2nd overall — Andrei Svechnikov — Carolina Hurricanes
2014, 1st overall — Aaron Ekblad — Florida Panthers
2012, 30th overall — Tanner Pearson —Los Angeles Kings
2011, 7th overall — Mark Scheifele — Winnipeg Jets
2010, 8th overall — Alexander Burmistrov — Atlanta Thrashers
2006, 12th overall — Bryan Little —Atlanta Thrashers
1999, 6th overall — Brian Finley — Nashville Predators
1999, 12th overall — Denis Shvidki — Florida Panthers