Continuing in our project to meet the newest members of the Minnesota Wild, we sometimes run into roadblocks. When it comes to players like Ryan Suter, who everyone already knows, it becomes more of a task in "what don't we already know" than anything else.
We've run into plenty of folks already ready to write off Suter and Zach Parise as "not as good as everyone thinks" or some other bitter line explaining why it was a good thing their team didn't land one or both of the prized free agents. Add into it the fact that they both signed with the Wild, and it appears they were actually worse for any NHL team than an outbreak of bubonic plague. You can tell how much other fans didn't want these players by reading all of the articles asking them not to sign with their local squad.
Good luck with that.
The end result is a known quantity. Ryan Suter signed here in Minnesota, and now we need to get to know him. Make the jump.
For our expert knowledge, we reached out to a handful of Predators writers. Good friend of the site Ryan Porth of Smashville 24/7 was the only one to respond. We see how it is with the rest of you. We'll be, as a collective group, over in the corner crying. You have scarred us for life. Or not.
Here's what Ryan had to say about... Ryan.
Here in Nashville, Ryan Suter was as consistent of an all-around defenseman that you could ask for. Everyone around the NHL accurately calls Suter a puck-moving defenseman, but that's not all he can do.
Even though Shea Weber played the primary shutdown role when they were together, Suter has no problem getting physical along the boards and doing whatever it takes to get the puck away from the opponent. That is an underrated part of his game. I assume he will quarterback the power play with the Wild, and he should do well in that area, too.
While Weber has been busy gaining all the accolades in recent years, Suter's first All-Star appearance was (remarkably) this past season. Suter truly lived in Weber's shadow when it came to attention, but neither was more important than the other in becoming the NHL's top defensive pair.
But I wonder how he's going to react to being the guy on the back end. Suter no longer wanted to be Robin in Music City, but can he be Batman? I have my doubts, although I do think he'll be fine once he adjusts to his new surroundings; having a good friend like Zach Parise by his side can only help.
One thing that will help him is that he is accustomed to skating north of 25 minutes a night. In an extremely small sample size, Suter played without Weber for four games last season; the Predators' defense survived by going 3-1-0 in those games.
Off the ice, Suter is a quiet leader. To use an old cliché: he leads by example. He will be a good veteran for young defensemen, such as Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Mathew Dumba, to look up to. Suter doesn't like the bright lights, which makes Minnesota a better fit than New York or Philadelphia or Vancouver. When he's away from the rink, he prefers living a private life.
In the end, Suter will be a great fit with the Wild. I'm sure he'll make multiple All-Star appearances with them and be nominated for a Norris Trophy in the future. The ultimate question is how he and Weber will perform on their own island. How will they play this season and beyond without having each other as a security blanket? It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Where He Slots In
As with Parise, this one is simple. Suter is clearly the best defenseman on the team, right out of the gate. He will be top pairing in all situations. Expect him to skate big minutes every night, and to perform above anything you have seen from Wild defenseman in... well... ever most likely. Brent Burns is probably as close as the Wild have come to this level of d-man. Wild fans are going to enjoy having Suter. Count on it.