Minnesota Wild Fifteen Greatest Players: #5 Ryan Suter

In four seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Ryan Suter has been a pillar of solid play and defense.  His 148 assists are a franchise record by a defenseman, but for Suter it’s not about records it’s about a game that goes minute-by-minute…he just happens to play for more minutes than anyone on the team.

The top all around defenseman in Minnesota Wild history is the next player on the list of the fifteen greatest Wild players.  Ryan Suter checks into the list at number five, and brings with him a solid everyday work ethic that has seen him at the top of team and the NHL in ice time for the last five seasons.  Suter’s legacy on the Wild as the top defenseman for the last four seasons is the best of any that have come before him, and more than likely of the many that will come after him.  Since his signing in the summer of 2012 he’s been a leader on and off the ice in addition to putting up great numbers.

The man from Madison, would start his playing journey with the USA Hockey Development Team where he established himself as a shutdown defenseman.  His offensive numbers were not impressive, but his defensive play was enough to catch the eye of the Nashville Predators who drafted him 7th overall in the 2003 entry draft.  After being drafted Suter would play one season at the University of Wisconsin increasing his offensive output a bit, and having a solid year for the Badgers helping them to within one game of the Frozen Four.

After leaving Wisconsin, Suter would spend just one season in the AHL before joining the Predators full-time for the 2005-06 season.  In Nashville Suter would gain a reputation for workhorse minutes per game and shut down defense.  The points were strong, but the goals still were a little low as he never scored above ten goals in any of his seven seasons with the Preds.  Still it wasn’t his offense that made people regard him as one of the best defenseman in the league, it was his brand of pure defense.

Then in the summer of 2012, Suter would be part of the greatest free-agent acquisitions in Wild history   and one of the best free-agent signings in the history of the league.  He along with sign Zach Parise signed dual 13-year 98-million-dollar contracts that were unmatched in the history of the franchise.   Suter would stumble out of the gate in the 2012-13 season, but would quickly recover after being paired with young defenseman Jonas Brodin.  He recovered so well that Suter was named one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy.

In Suter’s four years with the Wild he has silently climbed the statistical later of the team.  Although he was a great player in Nashville, it just seemed from the get go that Suter had taken his game up a level when he moved to Minnesota.  His ice time increased on average by four minutes a game, and would make an all-star appearance in 2015.  This last season despite the Wild’s issues as a team, Suter would have his best statistical season of his career putting up 51 points (8 goals and 43 assists).

In the Wild record book no defenseman has more assists (142 assists) or a better plus/minus score with Suter posting a +34.  From speaking frankly in postgame interview to mentoring Jonas Brodin, what makes Suter truly a great player is his shutdown defense mixed with outstanding discipline.  And most of all at 31 years old, Suter will be around to continue to climb those records and perhaps make it to the top.

It’s no coincidence that the Wild are so successful with Suter on the ice.  In his four seasons with the Wild he has never had a negative plus/minus rating, which says that the team is in a great position with Suter in the lineup.  The future holds a lot more for Suter and a move up this list will more than likely happen.  Just make sure to keep your eyes open, because Suter will do it quietly just like all the truly great players do.