2021 Season Summary: Nick Suzuki and Jason Robertson Have Breakout Seasons

There were an unprecedented 12 players of Asian descent who in the NHL this season, highlighted by breakout seasons from centreman Nick Suzuki (MTL) and winger Jason Robertson (DAL).

Suzuki built on an impressive postseason in the 2020 Playoffs last year to post 15 goals and 41 points in 56 regular-season games during his sophomore professional season. Most importantly, he again elevated his game when it mattered most in the playoffs – Suzuki led his team in scoring with 16 points in 22 games while they unexpectedly advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, and he individually came through big in multiple clutch situations for the team.

Robertson was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top rookie after posting 17 goals and 45 points in 51 games. He was a key component of the Stars’ top 6 alongside Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz, and also played for Team USA at the World Championships for the first time.

I started exceeding my own expectations coming into the year. I knew I had the skill and the smarts to play at that level but not to have all the production. I thought I could do it but I just didn’t think I was (actually) going to do it. But playing the game the right way is something the coaches have always told me…to keep playing my game and that’s pretty much what I did.

Jason Robertson to The Athletic (2021)


Matt Dumba

In addition to Suzuki and Robertson, veteran defenseman Matt Dumba (MIN) had another solid season in the Wild’s top four while continuing to lead on and off the ice in his role with the Hockey Diversity Alliance. Jonas Siegenthaler (NJD) was traded from Washington to New Jersey midway through the season, and signed a two-year, $2.25M contract extension this year.

Siegenthaler’s 5-on-5 numbers at Natural Stat Trick were decent to very encouraging…his expected goals and scoring chance percentages were fantastic with a xGF% of 54.5%, a SCF% of 58%, and a HDCF% of 61.7%. It was not just that the Devils on the ice were generating shots and creating scoring chances at a high rate – they were – but the rates against them in those categories were quite low. At the best, they were signs that his defensive defenseman reputation was legit.

John Fischer, All About the Jersey (2021)

The Edmonton Oilers regularly played a record three players of Asian descent, with winger Kailer Yamamoto (EDM) in the top six along with veteran fourth line mainstays Jujhar Khaira (EDM) and Devin Shore (EDM). Khaira and Yamamoto are both RFA’s this offseason, while Shore recently signed a two-year contract extension with an AAV of $850k.

Last NameFirst NamePositionTeamGPGATP
RobertsonJasonLW/RWDallas Stars51172845
SuzukiNickCMontréal Canadiens56152641
YamamotoKailerRW/LWEdmonton Oilers5281321
DumbaMattDMinnesota Wild5161521
KhairaJujharLW/CEdmonton Oilers403811
ShoreDevinCEdmonton Oilers38549
SherwoodKieferW/CColorado Avalanche16033
SikuraDylanW/CVegas Golden Knights6202
HiroseTaroLW/RWDetroit Red Wings6022
RobertsonNicholasLWToronto Maple Leafs6011
SherwoodKoleRWColumbus Blue Jackets6011
SiegenthalerJonasDNew Jersey Devils15000


Taro Hirose

Twelve players of Asian descent played in the AHL this season, highlighted by a few players who also had a cup of coffee in the NHL, including forwards Taro Hirose (DET), Dylan Sikura (VGK), Kiefer Sherwood (COL), and Nick Robertson (TOR). Hirose averaged a point per game with 28 in 29 games, while Sherwood had a remarkable 10 goals and 16 points in only 10 AHL games. Younger brothers winger Nick Robertson and centreman Ryan Suzuki (CAR) both had solid rookie seasons in their first year as a professional, as did defenseman Jett Woo (VAN).

Last NameFirst NamePositionTeamGPGATP
HiroseTaroLW/RWGrand Rapids Griffins2952328
SikuraDylanW/CHenderson Silver Knights30111122
SikuraTylerC/LWCleveland Monsters29111021
SherwoodKieferW/CColorado Eagles1010616
RobertsonNicholasLWToronto Marlies2151116
SuzukiRyanCChicago Wolves265510
PuCliffRW/CCleveland Monsters163710
WooJettDUtica Comets28325
SompelMitchell VandeDBridgeport Sound Tigers20055
SherwoodKoleRWCleveland Monsters9314
ShenPavelC/RWProvidence Bruins16134
KawaguchiJordanCTexas Stars3112


Tyler Wong

Veteran winger Oleg Li (KHL Sibir Novosibirsk) posted career-highs with 17 goals and 31 points in 56 games. Former KRS Beijing captain Brandon Yip (Liiga Jukurit) made his debut in the Finnish league this season, as did centreman Jonathan Ang (SL HC Thurgau) in the Swiss league after two seasons in the AHL.

Kunlun Red Star Beijing had a challenging season in the KHL playing mostly out of an arena in Russia due to travel restrictions to their home arena in Beijing, and ended the 2021 season with an 11-39-2-8 record. Centreman Luke Lockhart (KHL Kunlun Red Star Beijing) had 11 goals and a career-high 21 points in 53 games. Winger Parker Foo (KHL Kunlun Red Star Beijing) also made his professional debut on the same line as his brother Spencer Foo (KHL Kunlun Red Star Beijing).

Last NameFirst NamePositionTeamGPGATPLeague
LiOlegRWSibir Novosibirsk56171431KHL
LockhartLukeCKunlun Red Star53111021KHL
FooSpencerRWKunlun Red Star489918KHL
WongTylerRWKunlun Red Star427815KHL
FramJasonDKunlun Red Star29628KHL
KaneCoryC/LWKunlun Red Star16336KHL
FooParkerLWKunlun Red Star32213KHL
RicheAlexCKunlun Red Star4000KHL
ShenPavelC/RWHK Sochi6000KHL
AngJonathanCHC Thurgau124812SL


Emily Costales

After winning the Russian women’s league championship in their inaugural season, KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen was on track to repeat again this season despite playing out of an arena in Russia due to travel restrictions. The Rays advanced to the league finals before the series was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID.

Standout players for Shenzhen included: goaltender Kim Newell, who was unquestionably the best goalie in the league with a league-leading 0.961 save percentage and 0.72 GAA; forward Rachel Llanes with 12 goals and 30 points in 28 games; and defender Jessica Wong, who averaged almost a point per game with 27 in 28 games to finish second on the team in scoring among the team’s defenders.

Last NameFirst NamePositionTeamGPGATP
LlanesRachelFKRS Vanke Rays28121830
WongJessicaDKRS Vanke Rays2842327
LumLeahFKRS Vanke Rays2671623
TseKaitlinDKRS Vanke Rays2821012
CostalesEmilyFKRS Vanke Rays26235
JueMelanieF/DKRS Vanke Rays26044
HuoCuiFKRS Vanke Rays12213
ZhangShuangDKRS Vanke Rays9101
QiXuetingDKRS Vanke Rays10000
TangLiangFKRS Vanke Rays17000


Mikaël Tam

Defenseman Michael Kim (ECHL Jacksonville Icemen) was second on his team in scoring by a defenseman with 22 points in 70 games, while defenseman Mikaël Tam (ECHL Rapid City Rush) returned to North America from the KHL and posted 19 points in 66 games.

Last NameFirst NamePositionTeamGPGATP
KimMichaelDJacksonville Icemen7031922
TamMikaëlDRapid City Rush6621719
WoodsJustinDKansas City Mavericks12145
TeraoYuriRWUtah Grizzlies14112