2022-23 Team: Penticton Vees
Date of Birth: November 16, 2004
Place of Birth: Kazan, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 205 pounds
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 40th (amongst NA skaters)
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 62nd
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 94th
- TSN/Button: 43rd
- Elite Prospects: 60th
- Smaht Scouting: 50th
- Dobber Prospects: 60th
Penticton Vees fans have been treated to their own version of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl this season in Bradly Nadeau and Aydar Suniev. Nadeau finished the regular season with 45 goals and 113 points while Suniev countered with 45 goals and 90 points. The dynamic duo has continued its dominance in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) Playoffs too with 17 goals and 30 points for the former and seven goals and 17 points for the latter. The Vees are currently getting ready to play in the BCHL Final against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the right to lift the Fred Page Cup, and both players have been huge in helping them get there.
Related: THW’s 2023 NHL Draft Guide
But enough of Nadeau, let’s dive into Suniev. Ranked lower than his superstar counterpart mostly due to his poor skating mechanics, his strengths lie in his strong wrist shot and one-timer, soft hands, and impressive motor. Scouts and draft experts often point to his tenacious forechecking and backchecking as key components of his game as well. Opponents need to be constantly aware of him in the offensive zone – even when they have the puck. Watching tape of his game, there were a few times where I saw him come in hard on the forecheck and just strip the puck away from the defender and either score a goal himself or set someone else up.
Suniev has all the tools to make it to the next level. His skating can be improved. You can’t however look past the fact that he has a goalscorer’s shot, a nose for the net, and most of all, hockey IQ (which as we all know you either have or you don’t). He’s also committed to the University of Massachusetts for the 2024-25 season, which has produced NHL players like Cale Makar, Brandon Montour, and Connor Sheary over the years.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Aydar Suniev – NHL Draft Projection
Most of the industry has Suniev going in the mid-to-late second round somewhere between 40 and 60. He’s risen up draft boards in recent months due to his production and dominance in the regular season and the playoffs. If he continues to rack up the goals and points in the BCHL Final, he could find himself closer to the first round. However, his skating will probably make general managers hesitate to pick him over someone that is already polished in that area. As such, expect to see him get chosen between picks 45 and 50.
“…Suniev has developed an array of adaptive skills to compensate for his poor skating. He is tenacious all over the ice, which makes him a powerful puck carrier, pestering forechecker, and a defensively engaged winger. His off-puck habits are very strong. He’s a strong back checker, is consistently well-positioned, finds space offensively very well, and consistently attacks the slot and the middle lane offensively. He is an intelligent player who leverages his brain to create advantages.” – Sebastian High, Dobber Prospects
Latest News & Highlights
“Suniev is a fun watch as he harkens back to a different age with his power forward style of play. He is an absolute unit on the ice against this age group and seems completely unfazed and blind to obstacles in his way as he muscles through contact. Unsurprisingly, Suniev is a force along the wall where he is borderline impossible to strip of possession.” – Donesh Mazloum, FC Hockey
“Possessing a hulking 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame, Suniev blends size and pro-level habits to roll over BCHL competition. The late 2004-born forward is a gifted forechecker; proactive physicality, immense balance, superior route-following, and constant jousting to obtain superior body position allow him to win a ridiculous amount of pucks back in the offensive zone. He goes as far as manipulating with his feet to shake off defenders when he wins puck races.” – Daniel Gee, EP Rinkside (from ‘Standout performances from the 2022 BCHL Showcase’, EP Rinkside, 10/24/22)
- Wrist shot
- Work ethic
- Hockey IQ
- Two-way game
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Skating mechanics
If Suniev can improve his skating with help from a skating coach, he could become a very serviceable middle-six winger that sees time on the power play. Just his shot, hands and power forward frame will make that an almost guarantee. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t get his skating up to at least average, he will have a hard time sticking in the NHL and will most likely top out as an American Hockey League journeyman.
Having said that, anyone with a strong work ethic and responsible two-way game should never be counted out. Just look at Mark Stone, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Ottawa Senators. In his draft year, his skating was a weakness. Now he’s making a living as one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL. He was even a finalist for the Selke Trophy – twice. Now, I am not saying Suniev will hit the heights of Stone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name as a regular on an NHL roster sheet one day.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
Suniev was given First Team All-League Honors in the BCHL and was named to the All-Rookie Team.