Nick Suzuki, 23, 'the heartbeat of our team,' named captain of rebuilding Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens forward Nick Suzuki, 23, became the youngest captain in team history on Monday.

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes announced the appointment, saying the decision was made by the club's hockey management personnel. An alternate captain last season, Suzuki will succeed defenseman Shea Weber, who served as captain between 2018 and 2022, though he did not play last season due to injury.

Veteran defenseman Joel Edmundson and forward Brendan Gallagher will occupy Montreal's alternate captain slots.

Suzuki will begin his fourth NHL season next month and will do so on the first year of an eight-year contract extension signed last October. He will most likely occupy the center slot on Montreal's top line as the Canadiens continue their rebuild.

"He's the heartbeat of our team," Gallagher said. "He's fully ready for this opportunity."

Suzuki made his NHL debut in 2019-20 and was named to the league's All-Rookie team. He has 49 goals and 143 points in 209 career games, and helped the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

An Ontario native, Suzuki was a first-round selection of Las Vegas in 2017, before being dealt to Montreal in a trade that sent former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty to the Golden Knights.