Video: NHL’s Ice Time King is Ryan Suter

Ice Time leader

Ryan Suter leads the league in Time on Ice per Game and is again having a Norris Trophy caliber season. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

It is a common goal of many young hockey players to reach the NHL. Youngsters wake up early on weekends, spend countless hours practicing and refining their game just for the chance to make it to the big league. Reaching the NHL is a lofty goal and only a few will have the talent, skill, and determination required to reach this elite league.

Many aspire to reach the NHL but very few are able to achieve their goal. Even fewer players will be able to secure a permanent role in the NHL. Rarer still are those players who can carve out a permanent spot in the league by consistently contributing to a club over the long-haul. In fact, according to QuantHockey, only four percent of players in the NHL will play more than one-thousand games. Long careers in the NHL are very rare so those who are able to be effective for the long-term are few and far between.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter has climbed to the top of this monumental journey in a big way. He has offered the state of hockey a consistent game and he has been rewarded with a ton of ice time. In fact, Suter has been on the ice so much this season that he currently is first in the NHL in this statistic. He has established himself as a big time defensemen and he will be a central force on Team USA’s squad at the Olympic Games in Sochi.

When it comes to ice time per game, Suter’s game has separated him from his competition making him the ice time king of the NHL. However, this is not something that just sprouted up this year. Suter has only averaged under twenty minutes per game for one season in his career during 2005-2006 with the Nashville Predators. He has consistently logged big ice time throughout his career because he plays such a strong defensive game. Suter has not only become the Wild’s top defender but also one of the NHL’s best.

 

Parise and Suter minnesota hockey

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both signed with the Wild in the summer of 2012 (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Contributions Go Beyond Ice Time

Ryan Suter has become one of the Wild’s most consistent defensemen. His league leading time on ice statistics are head-and-shoulders above the next closest non-goaltender. In thirty-nine games this season, Suter has put up a Time on Ice per Game of 29:37. The next closest is Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators who has 27:25.

Going into Friday’s game against Winnipeg, Suter also led the league in total shifts with 1,257 and Total Ice Time with more than 1,150 minutes. Suter has also skated for more than thirty minutes in nineteen games this season. His statistics and on-ice performances all show the large role he has played for the club this year.

Suter has played in many key situations for the Wild this season. He has logged more than ninety-seven short-handed minutes and he has one assist on the penalty kill so far this season. He has also been on the ice for one hundred forty-two minutes and he has tallied nine assists for the Wild with the man advantage.

An area of criticism for Suter this year has been the fact that he hasn’t scored a single goal. In his career, Suter has a respectable forty-two goals in six hundred twenty-nine career games. However, the goose egg he’s put up this year in goals has brought on some criticism, especially with his $7.5 million price tag.

Despite having no goals on the season, Suter has tallied twenty-two assists which is the highest assist total on the Wild this season. He also has the fourth highest point total on the Wild and he has the fourth highest point total among NHL defensemen league-wide. Suter has tallied an assist in his last seven games setting a career high and he looks to continue that streak in the Wild’s next contest against the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Olympic Workhorse

Due to his strong play at the NHL and at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Ryan Suter was an early candidate for this year’s US Olympic team for the Sochi games. In the 2010 games in Vancouver, Suter had four assists in six games and finished with a +9 rating. He will join Wild forward Zach Parise on Team USA and lead the squad’s blue line at the 2014 Olympic Games.

Of the other defensemen that are poised to be a part of the US team this year in Sochi, none average as much ice time as Suter. This has lead many to speculate that Suter may need to pair with two defensemen on the Olympic squad.

[For more on Wild Olympic hopefuls, see: Wild Invites to Olympic Orientation Camps]

Suter has been a stellar defenseman for the Wild this season and will be a strong leader on the US Olympic team in Sochi. His consistent game has not only helped the Wild this year but it has also helped in the development of their young stars. Suter has been paired with Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin who is also emerging as a solid defenseman and leader in ice time. As the season has progressed, aside from scoring goals, Suter has exceeded expectations and is again playing a Norris Trophy caliber season.

Tim Olewniczak

Tim Olewniczak

I began writing for The Hockey Writers in July 2013. I have been following hockey for over 25 years, played it as a kid, and I am proud to cover the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild. Follow me on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW
Tim Olewniczak
@dellasdj @C_DeDominicis10 Thank you sir! - 6 mins ago

2 Comments

  1. Tim Olewniczak Tim Olewniczak says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this. You make some very valid points. For this article, I was looking at his ice time to show how valuable he is for the Wild. He is a workhorse for the Wild and used in many key situations. I wasn’t arguing that he is the best defenseman in the league but that he is an elite defenseman playing a ton of key minutes for the Wild.

    Your argument about Chara, Keith & Pietrangelo is a very valid one in my opinion. They do cover up mistakes made by teammates and shut down the opposition. When they’re on the ice they do make their teams better and I agree with you on this.

    One issue I see with this is that Boston, Chicago and St Louis aren’t struggling as much with goal scoring as the Wild. Chicago is first in the league with 157 goals scored, St. Louis is second with 134 and Boston is 9th in the league with 114 goals scored. A good offense takes a ton of pressure off a defense. I’m not saying they have it easier but this is something to consider when comparing these defensemen. The Wild are 25th in the NHL with 92 goals so the teams aren’t close at all when it comes to offense.

    With Suter’s big price tag, I agree that he should be held to very high standards and should have a big influence on games. But do the problems with the Wild fall on Suter or are they a larger issue with goal scoring? Only Parise and Pominville have more than 10 goals which is a big problem.

    Granted, Suter isn’t scoring goals either and at his salary he should be more involved on offense but this isn’t all on him. The Wild have a -10 goal differential and Suter is a -4 at over 29 minutes per game so he is playing at a high level given Minnesota’s struggles on offense.

    I think this all needs to be considered when comparing Suter to other elite defensemen – the Norris Trophy committee will have lot to think about at the end of the year.

  2. Sorry, but I have to strongly disagree with this. All the arguments in Suter’s favour appear to centre around his ice time, but has he actually been the best defenceman in the league this year? I’ve watched every Wild game this year (most of them more than once) and I gotta say, his play has been extremely unconvincing. His underlying Corsi numbers back this up. The Wild get out-scored, out-shot and out-possessed while he is on the ice.

    You could say that this is down to Brodin’s shoddy 2nd season, but I don’t buy that. Elite, best-in-the-league defencemen should be playing well enough to cover-up their teammates poor play and should be making every teammate on the ice with them better, while effectively tilting the ice against the opposition and making their best players look like 4th liners. That’s what guys like Chara, Keith and Pietrangelo do every night.

    Can you really say that Suter, based on the eye-test, has out-performed these guys defensively? He certainly hasn’t looked good to my eye, and they’ve all looked amazing whenever I watch them. The numbers back this up.

    Regarding Suter’s offence, he’s actually 68th among d-men in 5v5 Points/60, and if you check Primary Points (goals and 1st assists) he falls back to 141st.

    To be honest, Spurgeon and Scandella have outplayed him this year in only marginally less difficult minutes. If he isn’t conclusively the best defenceman on his own team, how can he possibly be considered the best in the league?

    I’m not trying to bash Suter here, but he’s one of the highest paid players in the league and therefore should be held to very high standards. If you compare his influence on a game to that of other top defencemen, he is way behind.

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