18-year-old Oshawa Generals forward Oliver Suni put together a strong rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League. It didn’t take long for the former Kärpät U18 standout to acclimate to the OHL game as he put up three goals and ten assists in his first 10 games. Suni eventually finished the season with 12 goals and 20 assists in 43 games. His 32 points were 12th most among OHL rookies. On the downside, his season was hampered by a shoulder injury suffered on December 6. The injury caused him to miss the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, an event which would have been a great opportunity for him to boost his draft stock in front of attending NHL scouts. He returned to game action on January 25 and immediately got on the scoresheet in a 7-4 win against the Kingston Frontenacs. Suni is a projected second round pick for the 2020 NHL Draft.
Suni could work on his skating mechanics, but he’s very fast, especially in a straight line. His stride isn’t the prettiest and his first few strides could be a tad quicker, however, once he reaches top speed he has the ability to gain one stride ahead and pull away from defensemen. The raw power is there. However, if he can smooth out his stride, improve his explosiveness and lateral agility, his skating could turn into a real asset in the coming years. At the moment his skating is good, but not at an elite level compared to his peers.
The 6’2″, 187-pound right wing has really good hockey sense. He reads and reacts quickly and plays with his head on a swivel. He moves into good spots in the offensive zone and has a knack for being at the right place at the right time. He gives puck support at both ends of the ice. When in possession, he can execute a quick and effective passing game in all three zones. I strongly feel that Suni’s smarts will enable him to play a number of roles and up and down the lineup at the pro level.
Below are heatmaps of his goals and shots from the past OHL season (via the excellent hockey prospecs stats site Pick224.com), divided into even strength and power play situations. Suni scored many of his goals from inside the home plate area, especially at even strength. I think his timing has been the key to this success. He does not stay around the net for very long periods, but he has the ability to get there undetected and receive passes in high-percentage areas. He has a heavy wrist shot and one-timer as well and often scored from further out back in Kärpät juniors in Finland. But I think he has made the proper adjustments to the OHL game – getting to the net with regularity has been one of the keys.
Suni has shown that he has the physical tools to compete in the OHL. He is aggressive on the forecheck and uses his strength to separate opposing players from the puck. He won a fair amount of his puck battles in my viewings. A hard-nosed player with a good approach and effort from shift to shift.
I think there are a lot of reasons to like Oliver Suni’s game. He’s competitive, versatile, physically strong and very smart, with a good head on his shoulders. Unlike some of the first-year import players in the OHL, he didn’t need much time to be an impact player and earn his ice-time. As far as his projectability is concerned, I think he could develop into a solid middle-six NHL winger after some seasoning at the pro level. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a pro. It just matters, how good he’ll be.