Carolina Hurricanes

Canes sign forward Ryan Suzuki to entry-level contract

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed forward Ryan Suzuki, their first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Suzuki, 18, will be paid $832,500 at the NHL level or $70,000 at the American Hockey League level for all three seasons, the team announced Wednesday. He will receive a signing bonus of $277,500, which he noted would allow him to pay back his parents for his car.

“That was definitely my main goal after the draft,” Suzuki said Wednesday. “I just came in here and just felt I had a good camp and I think I earned the contract. I’m just glad they think of me as the player I think I am, and I think I’m just really excited.”

Suzuki, the 28th overall pick of the 2019 draft, played in his first game against NHL competition on Tuesday as the Canes topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in their first preseason exhibition game. That meant a game against such established stars as the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos.

“I think the first step I took on the ice I saw Stamkos out there in warmups and it was pretty intimidating, but I think once you get out there and get a feel for the game it’s all the same,” he said.

It helped that Nick Suzuki, Ryan’s older brother, has been through the same process. Nick Suzuki was the 13th overall pick of the 2017 draft by the Vegas Golden Knights and signed his entry-level contract with Vegas. Traded to the Montreal Canadiens before last season, he’s in their NHL camp.

“Growing up we always competed against each other and he really pushes me,” Ryan Suzuki said.

Suzuki had 25 goals and 50 assists in 65 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) games with the Barrie Colts last season. He has 119 points (39 goals, 80 assists) in 129 career OHL games, and also served as an alternate captain in 2018-19.

During the 2017-18 season, Suzuki was teammates with Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov.

Suzuki played for Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. The London, Ont., native was selected by the Hurricanes in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2019 NHL Draft.

“Ryan is a skilled center with strong playmaking ability,” general manager Don Waddell said in a statement.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.