The Washington Capitals have quite a few prospects to be excited about heading into 2022-23, but one name that’ll be interesting to follow is Alexander Suzdalev.
Washington’s 2022 third-round selection is making his North American debut with the Regina Pats this season. He has the potential to make a lot of noise for several reason, but so far, one stands out: he’s set to be an X-Factor alongside projected 2023 No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.
The two have bounced off each other at camp so far, and have experience playing together in the past in Sweden. However, Suzdalev will likely make major strides as he skates alongside Bedard, a 100-plus point player granted exceptional status in juniors.
Bedard has said nothing but good things about the Russian-born Swede, who went 70th overall in June.
“He’s such a skilled player. I got to play with him a bit in Sweden a couple years back… he’s so skilled and it seems like he can find me all the time,” Bedard told reporters at the Pats media day. “I’m really looking forward to building that chemistry and he’s definitely a special player.”
Suzdalev himself is coming off a standout campaign that he wants to follow up on in his post-draft year. In 2021-22, he shined with 15 goals and 36 assists for 51 points in 45 games for HV71 Jr. in the Swedish Jr. League. Suzdalev also got five games up in the HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-highest tier of pro hockey in Sweden. His play made him the 26th top international skater on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings ahead of the draft.
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The 18-year-old said he is ready to defy the expectations set for him as he transitions to the North American game. He is also looking forward to incorporating more skill into his game and further developing.
“It’s younger guys,” Suzdalev noted when it comes to the different between Europe and Canada. “When you become older, it’s a more mature game, and it’s not that kind of fast game here. Trying to do my best and lead by example. Overall it’s been very great it’s kind of different from sweden, the training the games the way they play hockey here. i like it. it’s fast game and a lot of room for skills.”
When it comes to areas of his game he wants to work on, Suzdalev isn’t just looking at production. The 6-2, 176-pound forward already has great hands, a high hockey IQ and good skating ability, but he wants to become more physical and use his frame to his advantage.
“I’m pretty big player, but I need try to play more physical and get in the dirty areas,” he added.’
Look for Suzdalev to stand out and make a major impact this year, which potentially could turn him into a steal for Washington at the 2022 NHL Draft.