Alexander Suzdalev had a highly successful first year of hockey in North America last season, posting 86 points (38g, 48a) in 66 games for the WHL’s Regina Pats. The 19-year-old winger was named to the league’s All-Rookie team and seemed primed for the jump to pro hockey according to reports out of Regina earlier this summer.
The Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis tweeted out on Saturday that the brakes may have been pumped on that decision. Suzdalev’s landing spot for the 2023-24 campaign seems to be still very much up in the air.
I asked Alexander Suzdalev (Washington Capitals) about his status for 2023-24, whether pro or in junior.
Said it's still up in the air, all will be decided after Caps training camp.
But Regina is still an option. #WJSS
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) July 29, 2023
Ellis reports that Suzdalev has said that the final call will be made after Capitals training camp in the fall. He adds that a return to Regina is still possible which is not abnormal because a player in Suzdalev’s age group would usually be required to return to junior hockey if they were not on an NHL roster. But, Suzdalev falls in a bit of an exception zone due to being drafted out of Europe and does not need to adhere to the CHL-NHL Transfer Agreement. Hence, the conversation around where he will play next year.
The three options in North America would be to stick with the Caps in the NHL which is very unlikely at this stage of his development, join the AHL’s Hershey Bears where he spent time as a Calder Cup Playoffs black ace this past postseason, or return to the WHL.
In most cases, getting Suzdalev immediate experience in the AHL would be the go-to option but the Bears have an incredibly stacked roster of more veteran players that will quickly fill up the top-six roles. Hershey has already signed or re-signed forwards Tyson Empey, Jimmy Huntington, Matthew Strome, Julian Napravnik, Riley Sutter, and Garrett Roe this summer to go along with Caps tweener signings Pierrick Dube, Matthew Phillips, and Alex Limoges.
That logjam doesn’t even factor in names like Michael Sgarbossa, Mike Vecchione, Hendrix Lapierre, Joe Snively, Ethen Frank, Bogdan Trineyev, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Henry Rybinski etc. so the decision to send Suzdalev back to Regina where he will be the team’s go-to guy with Connor Bedard jumping to the NHL could be deemed better for his growth.
Before Suzdalev arrives in DC for that deciding training camp, he’ll first be at USA Hockey’s 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase with Team Sweden this upcoming week. There, he’ll play for Sweden against a split squad of American players (Team White and Team Blue) as well as Team Finland in a four-team tournament.
Suzdalev scored for Sweden in their first game of the tournament on Saturday.
— Ryan Sikes (@ryan_sikes10) July 29, 2023
The Summer Showcase helps national teams evaluate players ahead of this year’s World Junior Championship. He’ll be joined in the games by fellow Caps prospects Ryan Leonard and Ryan Chesley who will play for USA’s Team White.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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