Canadiens: Nick Suzuki Chasing Wickenheiser’s Point Streak Record

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 25: Nick Suzuki #14 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at the Bell Centre on February 25, 2020 in Montreal, Canada. The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 25: Nick Suzuki #14 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at the Bell Centre on February 25, 2020 in Montreal, Canada. The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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To say Nick Suzuki has lived up to his expectations so far with the Montreal Canadiens, would be a gross understatement.

The former 13th overall and first draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL draft, Suzuki has slowly but surely eased his way onto the scoresheet and into the hearts of fans in Montreal. After posting 41 points over 71 games in his rookie season in 2019-20, Suzuki played a key role for the Canadiens as they put together a solid performance in the expanded 24-team playoff format. With 7 points over 10 games, Suzuki would tie for the team lead in scoring with Jonathan Drouin, showcasing an impressive mix of speed, and on-ice vision, coupled with a quick release.

In a 2020-21 season that has thus far seen the Canadiens jump out to an impressive 4-0-2 record, Suzuki has continued his solid play, as he now finds himself chasing a long-standing Canadiens record owned by a, like Suzuki, former first round pick. Prior to his move to Montreal, Suzuki had been seen as a key part of the Golden Knights future, before the franchise had even stepped foot onto NHL ice. Prior to the start of the season, GM George McPhee had adopted a much different strategy than we would come to know them for today, choosing to stockpile picks and build through the draft.

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Because of this, the team put their main focus on top prospects like Suzuki and 15th overall pick in 2017, Erik Brannstrom, rather than the core roster selected in the expansion draft. Then, the 2017-18 season began, and well, the rest is history. Vegas’s quick progression from expansion team to legitimate Western Conference powerhouse is deserving of its own article, but to put it simply, after an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season in the league, Vegas immediately switched to a win-now mentality, which made prospects like Suzuki expendable, and quite valuable.

Prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, the Golden Knights traded Suzuki to the Canadiens, along with a second round pick and former Detroit Red Wings top scorer Tomas Tatar, in exchange for former Habs Captain Max Pacioretty. Say what you will about how this trade has worked out (beautifully on both sides), but Suzuki’s quick development is something that neither the Canadiens or Golden Knights could’ve seen coming. Along with Tatar’s return to form in Montreal, becoming the Canadiens leader on offense at times, Suzuki seems to have all the makings of a future NHL star, as was once believed about the player who’s record he’s chasing.

Having recorded a point in each of his first six games this season, Suzuki now finds himself on the list for longest point streak by a Canadiens player since 1975-76. Alongside Canadiens legends like Joe Malone, who put up 44 goals over 20 games in the 1917-18 season (the NHL’s first) sits the leader, Doug Wickenheiser, with an 11 game point streak in 1982-83, recording 9 goals and 8 assists in that span. The first overall pick by the Canadiens in the 1980 NHL entry draft, Wickenheiser is seen in modern day as the complete opposite of Suzuki in terms of success, but for a time, was seen as a, like Suzuki, top, if not can’t miss prospect.

Canadiens top prospect Nick Suzuki finds himself chasing a piece of Canadiens history as he looks to continue his six game point streak.

After posting 89 goals and 81 assists over 71 games in his final year in the WHL with the Regina Pats, Wickenheiser was seen as the consensus first overall pick, possessing all the qualities of a future elite center in the NHL. Despite this, Canadiens fans ultimately had their eyes set on a different top prospect, in Quebec native Denis Savard. Ultimately, the Habs chose Wickenheiser, with Savard going to the Chicago Blackhawks third overall, and once again, the rest is history. While Wickenheiser’s red hot start to the 1982-83 season ended with career highs of 25 goals and 30 assists over 78 games, he was ultimately drowned out by the numerous other stars the Canadiens possessed, and was lynched by fans who were less than satisfied with the Saskatoon Native’s slow development, as compared to Savard.

After a slow start to the 1983-84 season, management, similarly frustrated by his development, traded Wickenheiser to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for scraps in checking forward Perry Turnbull. While he would post one more 40 point season in St. Louis, he would never quite live up to his first overall selection, being out of the NHL altogether by 1990. Yet, he still finds himself tied back to Canadiens history, and in this case, a current top prospect in Suzuki. After enduring dud after dud in the past few NHL entry drafts, the Canadiens have picked up some top prospects recently in Alexander Romanov, Cale Fleury, Cayden Primeau, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Suzuki.

Seemingly removed from the days of Michael McCarron, Nikita Scherbak, and Alex Galchenyuk, the Canadiens future now looks brighter than ever, with Suzuki chasing the record of what was once the Canadiens top prospect in Wickenheiser. With Montreal set to make their home-ice debut on Thursday against the Calgary Flames, Suzuki will look to continue his point streak and chase for a piece of Canadiens history.

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While the days of Guy Lafleur, Serge Savard and the The Flying Frenchmen still seem long gone, the Habs have been incredibly fun to watch this season, reminiscent of the days of consecutive Stanley Cups, and a different approach to the NHL draft. It’s been an impressive start to the NHL season for both the Canadiens and Nick Suzuki, and as we look further into this 56-game schedule, this former 13th overall pick could look to break the record of a long forgotten, number one.