Blackhawks News

The Central Division’s Top Five Players

By Skylar Peters
4 of 5

Mar 14, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman

Ryan Suter

(20) against the Colorado Avalanche at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

  • #2: Ryan Suter

Ryan Suter is the only defenseman to find himself on this list, and has continued to excel on the blue-line throughout his 8 seasons in the National Hockey League. Suter is a Central Division veteran, spending 7 years with the Nashville Predators before signing with the Minnesota Wild, who are moving in to the division in 2013-14.

Suter’s game thrives in his own end, and he has shown himself to be one of, if not the most reliable defenseman in the league. With an average ice time of 27:16 a game, Suter is the guy the Wild trust during those high-pressure situations.Extremely good positioning and stellar vision are what sets Suter apart from the rest of the league, as no blue-liner is better in those two categories. Suter is rarely seen in a bad position, and can always make the right choice, no matter if the puck is on his stick, or one of his opponents.

Offensively, Suter surprises, with a great shot, well-placed to generate rebounds or score goals. He knows when and when not to pinch, and strong skating as well as great puck protection give him the ability to make some offense of his own when he is on the point. Suter is found on both the power play and penalty-kill units for the Wild, hence the massive ice-time.

2013 was a great year for the 28-year old, and would have set career highs in goals, points, and assists, if he played a full 82-game schedule. He did set a career high in single-game Time On Ice, recording a whopping 41:08 of play during the Wild’s Game One loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Nevertheless, he scored four goals and added 28 assists for 32 points, and he was a Norris Trophy finalist, an award many around the league think he should have won. He helped lead Minnesota to their first playoff appearance in 5 seasons, wearing the ‘A’ since his very first game as a member of the Wild.

Suter’s game shows no signs of slowing down entering 2013-14. He will still be called upon during those big moments, and with a season like the one he had in 2013, he could take home the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman.