The Washington Capitals selected left wing Alexander Suzdalev in the third-round (70th overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft. The Capitals acquired the pick as part of the trade that sent goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils on second day of the draft.
The Capitals announced on July 15, the last day of the team’s development camp, that they had signed Suzdalev to a three-year deal. Suzdalev will earn $775,000 in each of the first two seasons of the deal and $800,000 (NHL) in the third and $82,500 in the AHL.
The last part of the deal is the eye-catcher.
The question now is, where will Suzdalev play this coming season.
As noted in the table above, the Bears are in still need of additional left wingers for the coming season. So could Suzdalev fit the bill?
Suzdalev, 18, is a left-hander listed at 6’2” and 176 pounds. He spent last season with HV71 junior 20 team in Sweden, but has not returned to the team as of yet, leaving some to speculate about his next destination. HV71 opened training camp earlier this month, without Suzdalev.
However, Suzdalev was keeping busy, working out with the Sweden’s 2023 World Junior team during a recent camp in Enköping last week. He is also coming off of a very productive 2021-22 season, recording 15 goals and 36 assists in just 45 games.
The Capitals are obviously pretty excited about Suzdalev, trading up to get him in the draft as they did. They also must have been delighted with what they saw in development camp to quickly sign Suzdalev to a three-year deal. The question remains, is he ready for the AHL?
He has the size, at 6’-2, 180 pounds, and in video review, he appears to use his body well in puck and board battles. He’s also got sufficient speed to compete at the AHL level.
Obviously the need in Hershey should not dictate the development trajectory of Suzdalev. But why haven’t the Bears signed another left winger? And why hasn’t Suzdalev been added to the HV71 roster for this season? (Elite Prospects has no designation for him next season). And why is there an AHL pay designation in his contract?
The following interview includes plenty of interesting background questions to Suzdalev and well worth a listen. Turns out his English is already pretty good… oh, and he’s played pickup hockey with Alex Semin back in Russia.
Personally, I’d rather see Suzdalev play another season with HV71. That’s just my preference, to error on the side of caution with prospects. But if a player is “ready”, he’s ready. What do you think?
By Jon Sorensen