Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
The 2023 NHL Draft is set to take place on June 28 and 29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings include five players that played in the BCHL last year and another two who are BCHL alumni in college hockey.
Leading up to the draft, we will share interviews with the prospects about the draft process and a variety of other subjects.
The BCHL’s 2023 NHL Draft coverage is presented by Chevrolet.
Penticton Vees forward Aydar Suniev may not have gotten the same attention as his teammates the Nadeau brothers last year, but his first full season in the BCHL was impressive to say the least. The 18-year-old tied for the league lead with 45 goals and finished third in BCHL scoring with 90 points in 50 games, all while playing on his team’s second line.
The University of Massachusetts commit enters the NHL Draft as the 40th ranked North American skater and is projected to be selected in the early to middle rounds.
We spoke with Suniev about his play during his draft year, how he describes his game and playing college hockey next season.
BCHL: How do you think you performed during your draft year in 2022-23?
Suniev: It was a great year for me and my team. Winning back-to-back championships was a nice and exciting thing to do. There was a bit of pressure at the beginning. You don’t know what to expect. I’ve never experienced playing in a draft year, but I think I handled myself pretty well.
BCHL: How do you think you developed in your one-and-a-half years in Penticton?
Suniev: Last year, halfway through the season coming to the BCHL, it was something different for me and a new experience. This year, I think I stepped up and developed my game to a new level. I was enjoying it and having fun on the ice.
BCHL: Both years in Penticton, your roster was full of skilled players. How did being around that calibre of player every day help your game?
Suniev: It’s great to be around those players, learning what they do on a daily basis, how hard they work every day and how hard we push each other to be better. That’s something that helped us win this year.
BCHL: How would you describe your game and how would it translate to the pro level?
Suniev: I’m a two-way player with lots of skill who can play on both sides of the puck. I like to generate offence and score goals. I think in the long run, I expect myself to be that kind of player.
BCHL: What would it mean to you to get drafted?
Suniev: It would definitely mean a lot with how hard I worked over the years to get to this point. At the same time, I would still be focused on working harder and harder. That’s not my final goal. It’s something I should be proud of, but there’s still a lot to go and a lot of work to get to the NHL level.
BCHL: How much are you looking forward to starting your college career next season?
Suniev: I’m really excited to be going to UMass. I think we’ll have a good year with a great team. I’m looking forward to that.