The WHL’s Regina Pats released their training camp roster on Monday and the most notable thing about it was who wasn’t on it.
Capitals prospect Alexander Suzdalev was not among the 59 players scheduled to participate as he is expected to at least start the 2023-24 season in the Caps’ organization.
In late July, The Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis tweeted out that Suzdalev’s final landing spot for the next year would be up in the air until after NHL training camp. While Suzdalev retains the option of heading back to Regina, he’ll first try to stick with either the Capitals or Hershey Bears.
— Regina Pats (@WHLPats) August 28, 2023
The Pats addressed Suzdalev’s absence in their press release announcing the rosters. “2004-born import forward Alexander Suzdalev will not be taking part in main camp as he is expected to begin the season in professional hockey in the Washington Capitals organization.”
An eventual return to major junior hockey would not be abnormal for a player in Suzdalev’s age group as he is just 19-years-old. Under normal circumstances, he would be required to return to the CHL due to his age. But, Suzdalev falls in a bit of an exception zone due to being drafted out of Europe before heading to Regina. He does not need to adhere to the CHL-NHL Transfer Agreement. Hence, his ability to turn pro earlier than most of his junior teammates.
With the NHL unlikely at his current stage of development, his two primary North American options would be to join up with the Bears in the AHL as he did as a Calder Cup Playoffs black ace this past postseason or return to the Pats. The former has been made more difficult by the fact that the Bears have fully reloaded this summer with the addition of several AHL veterans that will likely fill up the team’s top-six forward roles where Suzdalev would be most comfortable playing.
Suzdalev tore up the WHL in his first season away from his home country of Sweden. His 86 points (38g, 48a) saw him ranked first among all WHL rookies in scoring, besting the next-highest scorer by 28 points. Over the full course of the season, he had seven games with at least three points. He then added 10 more points (3g, 7a) in 10 playoff games.
His efforts saw him named to the league’s All-Rookie Team, win WHL Rookie of the Month honors on three separate occasions, and receive direct praise from Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney.
“He played very well,” Mahoney said at this summer’s development camp. “He’s starting to get stronger. Obviously, he came off a really good year in Regina. He was Rookie of the Year and a lot of people thought it was because he was with [Connor] Bedard but he actually didn’t play with Bedard a lot five-on-five. From watching him last camp to watching him this camp, you can see that he’s getting stronger and more confident.”
S/T @LukeAdomanis for posting this news
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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