As the Minnesota Wild continue to improve each season, the question keeps popping up: when will Ryan Suter stop flirting with 30-minute workloads? The answer seems to be: “not in 2014-15.”
HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman caught up with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, who provided some interesting thoughts about Suter’s deployment:
21. Every year, I ask Fletcher if the Wild will try to curb Ryan Suter’s minutes. Last season, he came close to setting a record for most time on ice in one season. His answer: “Young guys evolve. Our depth is getting better, which should lead to fewer minutes. But it is a non-Olympic year, making it easier on the body. He could play half the game every night.” Translation: It’s going to be close.
22. Fletcher did say the team would like Suter to “be more involved in the offence…get up in the rush.” He had 43 points last season, three off his career high.
That second point might be just as interesting: the Wild want the 29-year-old to get more aggressive on offense. His skill level certainly argues for more involvement in that aspect, yet if you’re asking him to log far more ice time than any other NHL skater, wouldn’t getting in on the rush make it more difficult to conserve energy?
(As The Score’s Justin Bourne notes, Suter is a marvel when it comes to economic movement on the ice.)
Through two games, Suter is ranked fifth overall in average time on ice with a relatively paltry 26:57 minutes per game, down from last season’s daunting 29:24 average. He apparently joked about his reps to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Michael Russo a few days ago:
One could attribute those lower minutes to lopsided wins against the Colorado Avalanche, though. That season-opening beatdown gave him a breather in particular, as he only logged 25:31. (OK, only 10 other players are averaging ice time in that range, so maybe “only” is the wrong word …)
The bigger test will be as the season goes along. The Wild’s next game comes against the Ducks in Anaheim on Friday before they head to Los Angeles to face the Kings on Sunday. If those contests are competitive – as one might expect them to be – it should be interesting to see if Suter comes close to playing half of each game.
That sounds like the plan, at least.