Can Ryan Suter save Minnesota's blue line?

Hannah Foslien

With training camp underway and the season starting in just 5 days, what should Wild fans expect from Ryan Suter?

The Wild became the most talked about hockey team over the summer when they made a huge splash by landing the two biggest free agents of the year in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. These signings left Wild fans celebrating in the streets, while fans from other teams started making accusations that Minnesota was under the impression that the Stanly Cup was theirs for the 2012-2013 season. All of the controversy leads to one thing; what can Minnesota Wild fans actually expect from Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? Today, Suter will be up for discussion, followed by Parise tomorrow.

Ryan Suter joins the Wilds relatively young and inexperienced group of defensemen, and brings with him a massive amount of game experience. According to capgeek, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella are still on their entry level contracts, Nate Prosser has only played 55 games in the NHL, Justin Falk has played 72 NHL games and Clayton Stoner has 116 NHL games under his belt in 3 years. Luckily, Tom Gilbert has played in almost every single NHL game that his team was scheduled for since he joined the NHL as a player in 2007(404 games). The same can be said for Suter (542 games), except his first NHL season was in 2005. He has also played for team USA every year since 2001, with the exception of the 2007-2008 season.

Suter also brings Stanley Cup playoff experience to the rink. In his 7 year career with Nashville, he has played in 39 NHL playoff games. This is exactly 39 more games than the rest of the defensemen on the Wilds roster have played combined. With the way the Wild forwards and prospect forwards have been progressing, it is entirely feasible that not only do the Wild make the playoffs this year, but continue to make the playoffs on a consistent basis for years to come. The experience that Suter brings to the current defense group on how to handle the high pressure atmosphere is invaluable.

As far as stats go, Suter is pretty impressive on that front as well. He has only had a negative +/- rating twice in his NHL career, and is a +43 overall. He has only scored 38 goals, but has 200 assists. He’s not here to be a goal scoring defense player, he’s here to keep the puck away from Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding which is exactly what Minnesota needs right now. According to Hockey Wilderness’s own Ms.Conduct, pairing Suter with Spurgeon is going to make a pretty awesome combination. With the experience and skills that Suter brings to the table combined with Spurgeon’s hockey IQ that rivals Mikael Gralund’s (except that it’s on defense), these two have the potential to be a very dynamic duo.

There is some criticism surrounding Suter however. Some Nashville Predator fans seemed convinced that he had verbally committed to staying in Nashville before he signed with the Wild this summer, and even the Predators GM David Poile seemed shocked that Suter went to Minnesota. Add in the comments Suter made this fall about the owners signing players to deals that they felt wouldn’t need to be paid out, and it’s conceivable that Suter changes his mind and opinion on a whim. Only time will tell how he will fair with Minnesota fans in this regard.

Overall, it is safe to say that Wild fans are expecting a lot out of Suter. As long as fans taper their expectations to account for the adjustment to a new team and system, not to mention an extremely short camp and regular season , most fans should find themselves cheering for him on an almost nightly basis. Suter isn’t going to single-handedly keep every shot away from the goalies, but he is going to bring stability and skill to the blue line. Which frankly, is exactly what the Wild need.

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