Ryan Suter Decision: Star Defenseman Makes Wild a Real Threat

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 02:  Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates against Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

With the addition of Ryan Suter, the Minnesota Wild have catapulted themselves into the upper echelon of the NHL.

Suter, one of the most highly sought-after free agents in the league, decided to sign with the Wild for $98 million over 13 years. In doing so, he joins elite forward Zach Parise to create a formidable duo that makes the Wild a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup for the foreseeable future.

Signing both stars in the same offseason to equally staggering money totals is a risky maneuver, but the Wild should see the move pay off. Here are a few reasons Suter can turn the Wild from irrelevant to legitimate threat.


Improved Defense

The Wild's defense was already the strong suit of the team, but anytime you can add one of the elite defensemen in the game, it's going to improve. In 2012, the Wild gave up 2.6 goals per game (good for 13th in the league). It's not out of the realm of possibility to think that, with Suter as an anchor, we could see the defense in the top five of the league.

The Nashville Predators defense was statistically better than the Wild in nearly every category, and the Predators have Suter to thank for that. With Suter now playing for the Wild, they should be able to kill penalties and protect their goalie with the best of teams.


Improved Culture

When it comes to turning a corner as a franchise, it all comes down to changing the culture.

Every sport has its perennial cellar-dwellers, and with only three playoff appearances in eleven years, the Wild haven't exactly been a relevant team historically. In order to change that, they must change the culture.

Perhaps more than anything Suter gives the Wild on the ice, his arrival in Minnesota is a sign of things to come. By bringing in a star like Suter alongside a potent offensive threat such as Parise, the Wild have shown that they are very serious about putting a winning team on the ice.

A team that believes it can win is a very dangerous thing. With the addition of two of hockey's biggest stars, there should be no shortage of confidence for the Wild.


Sense of Urgency

We've seen this act before: The fledgling small-market team brings in a few big-name stars to spark interest with the fans and get a boost in ticket sales. However, usually when this happens, the stars that are brought in are a shell of their former selves and are simply looking to make some more money before they retire.

This isn't the case with Suter.

Suter comes to the Wild at 27 years old and with the security of a 13-year deal. What he's able to do with the Wild will become his legacy. As one of the league's premier defenseman, he could have signed anywhere he wanted to. Teams such as the Red Wings, Flyers or the Hurricanes would have been happy to have added a player like Suter.

By securing Suter's services, the Wild have announced themselves as legitimate contenders, and that status shouldn't change anytime soon.