Ryan Suter‘s ice time is just one of those issues that never goes away.
Every year, the Wild say they’ll make a concerted effort to monitor his minutes and try not to overextend him.
And every year, Suter still ends up playing a ton.
Such is the case this season. Heading into Wednesday night’s game in Vancouver, the 30-year-old blueliner finds himself atop his usual perch of TOI leaders, first among all NHL skaters at 27:39 per night.
Granted, this has something to do with recent sting of massive ice times.
Out of necessity lately, Suter has been used a lot, logging 28 minutes or more per game of the recent four-game trip, including 33 minutes, 11 seconds in Dallas and 32:26 in Boston. He once again is leading the league in ice time per game (27:39, still significantly lower than the 29:25 and 29:04 he averaged the past two seasons).
Head coach Mike Yeo and assistant coach Rick Wilson, who rotates the blue-liners during games, have had no choice with Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon sick lately, Marco Scandella away on personal leave and now hurt and Matt Dumba and a few others playing at less than 100 percent.
Yeo has repeatedly said he wants to keep Suter at 25-26 minutes per night. That could be related to the theory that’s been bandied around the last few postseasons — because Suter plays so much during the regular season, he tends to run out of gas in the playoffs.
(Or, in keeping with the fuel analogy, doesn’t have enough gas in the tank to raise his game another level.)
In light of all this, it’ll be interesting to see if GM Chuck Fletcher makes a move to bolster his blueline — specifically Isles d-man Travis Hamonic, who the club has been linked to.