Besides goalies, no NHLer spent more time on the ice last season than Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter. And that has many wondering about the effects of fatigue on the 29-year-old’s performance.
Suter played all 82 games for the Wild in 2013-14, averaging a league-high 29:24 of ice time per contest. Add it up and he skated almost 200 more minutes than the second-most-deployed skater, Erik Karlsson, did for the Ottawa Senators.
And that was just the regular season. Suter also averaged almost 30 minutes in 13 playoff games.
“He’s such an effortless player,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in defense of Suter’s ice time, per NHL.com. “He’s not a physical player and he’s not necessarily a player who’s leading the rush offensively. He defends really well, he moves the puck really well. He’s such an intelligent, intuitive player. He knows where to go and doesn’t waste a lot of energy flailing around the ice.”
There’s also the matter of Minnesota’s blue line, which, to put it nicely, isn’t among the deepest in the NHL. (Related story: the Wild would love for Matthew Dumba to earn a spot this year.) For coach Mike Yeo, sending Suter over the boards is the easy, stress-free decision.
But the difference now compared to when Suter joined the Wild a couple of years ago is that Minnesota has increased Stanley Cup aspirations. Simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore; the objective is a deep run. And the deeper the run, the more fatigue becomes a factor, particularly for No. 1 defensemen. Remember all the talk of Chris Pronger tiring out in 2010? And Zdeno Chara in 2013? Are the Wild pushing their luck with Suter, who turns 30 in January?
OK, time to vote:
Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal
The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.
Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.
The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.
“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”
Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators
For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.
Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.
Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.
“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.
“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”
Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.
He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”
A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.
(CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)
Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.
Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.
Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.
Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.
Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension
“Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.
“Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”