Washington Capitals forward prospect Alexander Suzdalev is uncertain where he is going to play for the 2023-24 season. He could go back to the Regina Pats of the WHL, or he could play for the Hershey Bears. According to Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney, that will depend on his performance this fall in Capitals training camp.
“[It’s] always [a fun] experience coming here in North America and have camp here with the Capitals organization,” Suzdalev said following day 2 of the Capitals 2023 development camp. “You learn more stuff now and you keep stuff last year and it’s great to come second year and you know some people and you’re kind of familiar.”
This is the 19-year-old’s second Capitals development camp. The 2022 third-round selection led all WHL rookies with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) and was Regina’s second leading scorer, trailing only Connor Bedard. Suzdalev was also named to the CHL All-Rookie team.
There is a lot to like about Suzdalev’s game. He is a strong playmaker with a powerful shot, though he tends to be careless with the puck at times because of his loose style of play. His 200-foot game also needs improvement as he was a minus-4, but that will likely come in time.
“Strength is going to be important for me this summer. I try to focus [on it] everyday here,” Suzdalev said.
— Jacob Cheris (@JCheris17) July 2, 2023
The ultimate goal for any hockey player is to play at the highest level. If Suzdalev fails to go to the AHL, his next goal will be to make Team Sweden’s World Junior squad. He was named to Team Sweden’s roster for the upcoming World Junior Summer Showcase taking place later this month in Plymouth, Michigan. The showcase is used for national teams to assess their prospective talent for this year’s World Junior Championship to be held in Sweden this December.
With the tournament being held in his homeland, and also failing to make the U20 team last year, the 6-foot-2 left-winger has extra motivation to make the final roster and represent his country.
“A good summer of training will probably help determine where he ends up,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said. “When we drafted him, he was slight and so the American Hockey League is a fantastic league. Big, strong adults are playing in that league.”
Suzdalev will be competing against high-end talent, such as Buffalo Sabres first round pick Noah Östlund, and Detroit Red Wings first round pick, Axel Sandin Pellikka. However, despite his motivation to get to the next level, Suzdalev only has one focus in mind right now.
“I’m just trying to develop my game and I think at camp and September we’ll see where I can play,” he said.
Suzdalev was also with the Bears during their Calder Cup run, to get a taste of what being a pro hockey player was like.
“I am very grateful for that and being around champions,” Suzdalev said. “It was a good experience. Very good team. Very good leaders.”
By Jacob Cheris