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:
Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight
After three full days without NHL action, the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will get underway tonight. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
San Jose at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 1 will be on NBC. To stream the contest using the Live Extra app, click here.
We wrote a lot about this series over the weekend. If you haven’t taken a look yet, here are the relevant links:
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.
PHT Morning Skate: Predicting the 2016 Stanley Cup Final