Minnesota Wild: 2018-19 Season Preview of Ryan Suter

ST. PAUL, MN - JANUARY 13: Minnesota Wild Defenceman Ryan Suter (20) lines up during a NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets on January 13, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. The Wild defeated the Jets 4-1.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JANUARY 13: Minnesota Wild Defenceman Ryan Suter (20) lines up during a NHL game between the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets on January 13, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. The Wild defeated the Jets 4-1.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The previews keep on coming as the Minnesota Wild preseason draws closer and closer. Today we look at star defenseman, #20 Ryan Suter and what to expect from the veteran.

Ryan Suter is entering season number 7 of the 13 year contract he signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2012. To this point, Suter the player has been excellent in the role he fills on the top pairing but it still has not translated into team success in the playoffs.


Ryan Suter is well known by Minnesota Wild fans, and his history is not a secret. The 7th Overall Draft pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft was forced to start his career in the AHL due to the 2003-04 NHL lockout, but when he arrived to Nashville it was clear he was going to have a successful career.

By the end of Suter’s first season in the NHL he had been paired with fellow star defenseman Shea Weber, and the two of them formed one of the most dominating defensive pairings of all time. They led the Predators to 5 Playoff appearances in 7 seasons being paired together.

Suter offered up 238 points (38 goals, 200 assists) in 542 games for Nashville, and an additional 13 points in 37 playoff games. The Predators were loaded on defense by the end of 2012, and decided to let Suter test free agency despite being voted to his first All-Star Game that year.

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It was at that point that Suter and fellow US National Team teammate Zach Parise made the decision to return closer to their home roots, and signed matching 13 year, $98 Million Contracts to be the backbone of the Minnesota Wild for the next decade.

Fans may not remember, but Suter actually got off to a rough start with his new team. Years of pairing with a stud like Weber made it a bit of a transition coming to a team where Suter was the star. Luckily, he found chemistry with rookie Jonas Brodin and established why the Wild had signed him.

In the years that have followed, Suter has averaged more than 26 minutes per game in every season and truly owned his role as the backbone of the defense. He and Brodin were split up to offer 2 strong defense pairings, and Suter has spent the last few seasons paired successfully with Jared Spurgeon on the top line.

Twice Suter has produced a career best 50 points in the regular season as a member of Minnesota, and he has only missed 9 games to injury over his 6 seasons with the team. He has also contributed 16 points through 33 playoff games.

Ryan Suter, along with Parise, have led the Wild to the playoffs in every season since arriving in the State of Hockey. Quite infamously, however, they have had limited success in the playoffs. A large reason being that by the time spring hockey comes around Suter is beat up from his ice-time and battling with injuries that limit him in the playoffs.

Season Preview

This season could be a very important one for Suter and the future of the Minnesota Wild. Clearly the contract he has signed makes it extremly unlikely for him to be sent anywhere, but if the team cannot find playoff success this year then Suter may have the team blown up and rebuilt around him.

The 33 year old is reaching the back stretch of a wonderful career, and the missing piece of the puzzle is his name engraved in Lord Stanley’s Cup. There is a lot of pessimism and negativity surrounding the build of this team heading into the season, but there should still remain hope.

The emergence of Mathew Dumba, along with the growth shown by rookies like Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy should shift some of the burden away from Suter and allow him to play at a higher level later into the year.

"“I feel the more I play, the better I am,” Suter said. “You don’t get tired out there. In the heat of the moment, you’re just trying to win that next shift. You’re not thinking about being tired.”"

Suter has famously said he feels like he plays better with more minutes, and doesn’t mind being relied upon so heavily. From a fan standpoint, and after seeing the nasty ankle injury (fractured fibula) he sustained on a routine play last season, I would be a lot more comfortable seeing Suter’s minutes dropping to a more reasonable 23 minutes per game from the 27+ he’s been averaging for years now.

I’ve discussed previously in Dumba’s preview and Spurgeon’s preview (If you haven’t read them yet you can find them here and here), that I believe this season could see a shift among the lines on the Top 4. Perhaps the key to the struggles in the playoffs lies in the inability to roll 3 defensive lines successfully.

I’ve speculated that we could see Dumba take the #2 spot beside Suter on the top pairing, but I also think it could be possible we see the team go another direction. Perhaps Dumba gets to take the lead spot on the 3rd pairing and Suter gets Nick Seeler or Carson Soucy (previews of them, also highly recommended, here and here) beside him and allow Dumba to be 2nd or 3rd pairing.

Anything that gives Suter an opportunity to stay healthy through the season and be more productive in the playoffs would be a bonus. A regression is likely this season, given age and injury recovery I wouldn’t expect him to put up another 50 point season, but 40-45 points over a full 82 games should still be realistic.

Ryan Suter has been nothing short of a workhorse since arriving in Minnesota. As fans, it’s easy to appreciate him wanting to take responsibility for the team’s success and failures, but it’s just as easy for that to be detrimental to the team. If the large minutes are having an adverse effect on Suter’s ability to be effective in the playoff’s, perhaps the answer is to play him smarter minutes rather than more minutes.

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The Wild defensive depth chart is deeper now than it has been at any other point in Suter’s time in Minnesota. With veterans and rookies alike all battling for playing time, and a Top 4 better than most teams in the league, now is the perfect time to split Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon, and Dumba up across the 3 pairings and let them all share the minutes equally.