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.
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.
John Scott has scored more goals than Ryan Suter this season.
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) December 28, 2013
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.
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 joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW