The Dallas Stars had a top priority heading into this summer — fill the void that Jamie Oleksiak left. The top four of their defense has been their strength the past few seasons and has pushed them into contention for the Stanley Cup. With Oleksiak being selected by the Seattle Kraken, Dallas filled that hole with 36-year-old Ryan Suter. Former Minnesota Wild defenseman, Suter signed a four-year, $14.6 million deal with a $3.65 million average annual value (AAV) this morning.
Suter was drafted seventh overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2003 NHL Draft. It did not take long for him to break into the league as he has been an NHL regular since the 2005-06 season. Following seven successful seasons with the Predators, he signed as a free agent with the Wild. His career took off to another level in Minnesota as he solidified himself as an elite NHL defenseman. In his nine seasons with the Wild, he rarely missed a game. Not only that, but he was also the leader in ice time nearly every season. Since 2010, he has exceeded 24 minutes of average ice time in all but one season. In fact, in most seasons he averaged closer to 28 minutes including twice exceeding 29.
While Suter is not a goal scorer by any means, he can add some offense from the back end. Aside from a down year in 2020-21, he has registered at least 40 points in every season since 2015. Finally, Suter has always been a consistent player. In his 16-year career, he has been a plus-rated player 14 times. His career-high season came in 2016-17 when he was an excellent plus-34 for the Wild. He struggled offensively last season with only 19 points in 56 games, but still maintained a plus-9 rating. It came as a surprise to the hockey world when Suter was bought out by the Wild along with teammate Zach Parise following the 2020-21 season.
What He Brings to Dallas
Suter will solidify the top four for Dallas. The top pairing of Esa Lindell and John Klingberg should stay together while Suter will likely slot in on the left side next to young superstar Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen is a left-handed shot, but has played and excelled on the right side the past two seasons across from Oleksiak. The biggest factors that Suter brings to Dallas are ice time and experience. With Klingberg and Heiskanen eating up most of the power-play time, Suter will be able to fill in wherever needed and has no issue playing big minutes.
Suter was also a big power-play contributor during his time in Minnesota. That could potentially allow the Stars to pair Heiskanen and Klingberg on the top unit, something we have seen from them in the past. Most importantly, it gives the Stars something they have not had the luxury of in a few years — options. With all of the injuries the last two seasons, they have had to dip into their prospect pool just to fill a lineup each and every night. Now, with four defensemen that have proven to play big-time minutes, they know they are in a better position. This will also allow each pair to split time more evenly to avoid any player from overplaying.
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Dallas is in “win-now” mode and believes this season could be their biggest opportunity for a championship. With many big contracts coming to an end next summer, adding key pieces this offseason was a priority and they have taken a big step with Suter. Another important piece of this deal is that Suter signed for a cheaper price in order to secure a longer term and play for a team that could win. The hope is that he is able to continue to play at a high level while providing leadership for the full four years in Dallas. This contract allows the Stars to maintain some salary cap space to pursue other possible additions this summer.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!