The Minnesota Wild department at The Hockey Writers is starting a series that will look at the franchise’s top-10 all-time players, in honor of their 20th anniversary last season. THW’s Wild team consisting of myself, Aaron Heckmann, Devon Platana, and Justin Walters voted on this list, and it began with the 10th spot, as we work our way down to the best player in franchise history.
We’ve got all the way to the third spot in this list, and that spot belongs to former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. He made news this offseason for the Wild when they made the tough, but ultimately necessary decision to buy out the last four years of his contract, along with teammate Zach Parise.
Following the buyout, Suter was then able to make the decision to sign on with another team, he ended up going to the Dallas Stars on a four-year deal worth $14.6 million. The Wild lost one of their mainstay defensemen and the Stars gained one.
Suter has been playing in the NHL for 16 seasons with two main teams. He was drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Nashville Predators. He then spent a season with the University of Wisconsin before heading to the American Hockey League (AHL) for the following season.
After his season in the AHL, he joined the Predators where he spent the first seven seasons of his career, and he started to make a name for himself after being partnered with Shea Weber. He also became noticed by playing over 20 minutes per game quite early on in his career. The Predators made five runs to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Suter and Weber leading their defensive core and playing as many minutes as they could.
Once those seven seasons were over, Suter decided to test the waters of free agency, and signed one of the largest deals at the time in the league, and the biggest for the Wild. He signed a 13-year, $98 million contract alongside Minnesota native Parise, who is also a close friend.
They made it through nine of those 13 years before being bought out by the Wild and thrown into a change of scenery. The Wild will still see some of Suter, however, since he stayed in the same division.
Tenure With the Wild
Obviously, over the time he spent with the Wild, he became a franchise face. He spent nine seasons with them before moving on. He was the leader of their defensive core for years, and was very good at it. They’ve always been a team that’s known for how strong its defense is, and Suter was a large part of that. He also delivered a level of consistency that the team needed to rely on, especially when they brought in young players.
He was a steady player that rarely changed his game, but with the Wild, he was able to put up both points, as well as prevent them. He was consistently playing over 26 minutes a game, until the last two shortened seasons, when he dropped to 24 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively.
In terms of young players, he was a player they could model themselves after and learn from. He became an alternate captain pretty much as soon as he signed with the Wild back in 2012, and remained it throughout his tenure with them, even when the captain switched from Mikko Koivu to Jared Spurgeon.
He was a silent, but strong leader who demonstrated his leadership by actions rather than words. He showed a consistent work ethic of always giving 110 percent every shift and blocking as many shots as he could. Players like Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, and former Wild player Marco Scandella were all able to learn from him as they started their respective careers.
Why Is Suter Deserving?
Well for one, he’s Ryan Suter, one of the faces of the franchise for almost the last decade. He played 656 games in a Wild sweater and scored 55 goals during that time. He also helped his teammates by assisting on 314 other goals that gave him 369 total points with the team.
As far as the defensive side, he delivered 557 hits and blocked 985 shots. With 656 games played, he blocked at least one shot per game, and then some. He’s known as one of the best for his defensive game, but one of his most impressive stats is his time on ice. He’s always been towards the top of the league when it comes to time on ice, taking the top spot in four different seasons. He set the bar for endurance by playing nearly 30 minutes a game, this in all 82 games of the season.
He was already an All-Star defenseman when he played for the Predators, and he proceeded to get better when he joined the Wild. Something that also shouldn’t be overlooked is Suter has been a Norris Trophy runner-up for the best defenseman in the league.
He has done many things over his career, and more importantly his time with the Wild, to be deserving of this recognition. He helped lead the strong defensive core, which the Wild will continue to have, due to his leadership with the younger players — even as the team moves forward without him. He’s left a lasting impression on the team that secured him this spot in the top three of all-time Wild players.
Catch up on the rest of the Wild Top 10 Players of All-Time:
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW as well as a cohost on the THW Youtube show Chicks & Sticks which produces a new show every Friday. She’s been covering the Wild at THW for just over eight months and has been on Chicks & Sticks since it started in early May. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team.