Montreal Canadiens: Nick Suzuki Is Stanley Cup Caliber Number One Center, Here's Why

Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens
Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens seem to have addressed an issue that plagued Marc Bergevin for many years, stocking up the middle of the lineup group, although Nick Suzuki emerged as the number one center.

Montreal currently has, when all healthy - Suzuki, Dach, Monahan, Dvorak, Evans and now Stephens, who play center. Then there are guys like Beck and Kidney who are learning the ropes in the Ontario Hockey League and the American Hockey League with Laval. The center issue has been resolved, and Kent Hughes has remained proactive, adding one or two at each of the last two drafts.

But people have questioned if Suzuki can lead this team to a Stanley Cup, firmly cemented as the number one center. Many argued that he doesn't and that the Canadiens wouldn't be a serious contender with Suzuki anchoring the first line. I disagree he has proven at every level that he can play a smart two-way game, and he doesn't cheat, he plays the full 200-foot game.

I think it's easy to look across the NHL and find many examples of number-one centers who have won Stanley Cups, although they aren't viewed as massive point producers. Anze Kopitar and Ryan O'Reilly come to mind right away, they each won a Stanley Cup as their club's number-one center. Kopitar in 2012 and 2014 with the Kings, and O'Reilly in 2019 with the Blues.

I am not comparing Suzuki to either of them, and Patrice Bergeron is another good example. His offensive brilliance was the result of his play away from the puck. He was the most relied-upon center for the Bruin's Stanley Cup championship run in 2011. These are just a few examples, but when a center just shows up and impacts the game at a high level in the NHL, it's hard to argue they don't belong at number one.

Suzuki Is Our Top Center

You can argue many things, we all do, and we are sometimes right, but sometimes we are that other word, that starts with a 'W'. It's hard to admit it, but many of the Suzuki doubters may have to eat their words. He is the Habs' number one center, and unless the club brings in somebody to usurp him from his seat, he will continue to be such.

Kirby Dach is fantastic, I wouldn't trade him for very many trade packages, but he is best as the number two center. He has all the skills and is at his best with the puck on his stick, which he can do on the second line, as he won't likely play against the opposition's best shutdown players. Suzuki will continue to grow his two-way game, which will serve him well against the other team's best players.

If you play hockey like a game of chess, you will always be a move ahead of the opposition. As soon as the opposition sees Nick go off the ice, Kirby can come on, and continue to push the offence for the Habs. Depth will best serve the team, and I don't think we can argue that Suzuki has continually proven capable of leading this team, both on and off the ice.

He has already been a pillar for a team that played in the Stanley Cup finals and let's put the bubble and lesser competition narrative to rest. Suzuki and Cole Caufield ran the Habs offence, obviously with some help, in the form of Artturi Lehkonen, and Tyler Toffoli, with Corey Perry and Eric Staal chipping in for the fourth line. But Suzuki did it, and I think the adversity he has been through, and the growth he has undergone will prove important the next time around.

Suzuki has proven at every level, that he is capable of carrying the torch, and he just leads by example. He wasn't named captain of the club because of his skills, but his maturity, leadership qualities and his way to involve his teammates, both on and off the ice. Offensively he is still growing, and with consistent linemates the top line will look much better. Especially with him in the middle.

Lets just watch the team, and let the players grow and reach their potential. The kids are on their way, we just need to show them some patience.