While the NHL Playoffs rage on, the Minnesota Wild are gearing up for one of the most frantic off seasons in league history. Wild GM, Bill Guerin, has many questions that need to be answered on the roster, including what to do with the team’s two highest paid players. Both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter came to Minnesota with high expectations and haven’t been able to take the team to the next level.
Let’s assume Bill Guerin finds a way around the “Cap Recapture” penalty and unloads one or the other. Which player is more valuable to the Wild, going forward? Let’s compare!
Nine (9) total if you include Hossa and Zetterberg
Jeff Carter LAK / CBJ
Jonathan Quick LAK
Sidney Crosby PIT
Duncan Keith CHI
Marian Hossa ARI / CHI
Henrik Zetterberg DET
Zach Parise MIN
Ryan Suter MIN
Shea Weber MTL / NSH https://t.co/XTrAun60cM— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 12, 2020
Durability was never an issue for Parise in New Jersey. He had only one season in which he failed to play at least 81 games. In fact, his first 5 seasons in the league Parise only missed THREE GAMES total, through his first FIVE SEASONS.
Since Parise has come back to Minnesota, however, he has only played two full seasons in eight years. Both of those seasons were shortened (2012-13 — Lockout | 2019-20 — Coronavirus). The closest Parise has come to playing a full 82-game slate, is 74 games, which he has done twice. Parise’s games played by season looks like this:
|Year||Games Played||Participation %|
Suter on the other hand has been far more durable than Parise during his Wild tenure. That’s not to say Parise has missed a ton of games, outside of 2017-18, but Suter has never missed more than five games through an entire season, since signing with Minnesota.
Suter also plays a ton of minutes every night. His LOWEST average for “Time on Ice” in a season, was just under 25 minutes per game (2019-20). Every other season, Suter has racked up over 26 minutes of ice time per game. Here is Suter’s games by season breakdown:
|Year||Games Played||Participation %|
As you can see, Suter takes the cake in durability. Not only does he play nearly every game, he also contributes heavy minute totals while he’s on the ice.
PRODUCTION – PARISE
While Zach Parise hasn’t put together full seasons as Suter has in a Wild uniform, he has still been very productive. Since 2012-13, Parise is 10th among all Left Wingers in points with 382. He ranks third in Power Play Goals with 69, seventh in total goals with 190, 18th in assists with 192, eighth in average time on ice at 18:45, and 14th in average points per game with 0.74 per game.
Parise’s ranks among Wild forwards since 2012-13 is even more impressive. First in goals, third in assists, first in Power Play goals, and second in average time on ice per game. Parise’s goal pace through the shortened 69 game season would have translated to another 30 goal season too, showing he is still plenty productive in his mid 30’s.
PRODUCTION – SUTER
Since Suter came to Minnesota before the 2012-13 season, he has been a top 10 defenseman in the entire NHL in several categories. Suter is tenth in total points, first in average time on ice per game, 13th in power play points, and sixth in assists among ALL DEFENSEMAN during that span.
Among Wild defenseman, Suter is first in points, first in assists, third in power play goals, and first in time on ice per game during that time. Not only does he play all the time, he is also still very productive. Suter nearly eclipsed 50 points again this year, and likely would have had the season not been paused due to COVID-19.
Any production that Suter brings as a defenseman is a bonus for what he contributes defensively every game. Parise’s main expectation is that he will provide goals when he is out on the ice. Suter has been a solid contributor overall and has been part of the Wild’s top Power Play unit for several seasons. Sorry Zach but Suter takes this category too.
OVERALL POSITION DEPTH
The Wild boast a very deep lineup of defensemen, and Suter is the anchor of that group. There aren’t many teams who can roll 4 lines deep on defense. But here the Wild sit with so many good options:
|DEF 1||Ryan Suter||Jared Spurgeon|
|DEF 2||Jonas Brodin||Matt Dumba|
|DEF 3||Carson Soucy||Matt Barkowski|
|DEF 4||Brad Hunt||Greg Pateryn|
Now that 3rd line combination contains two impending free agents. If they are not retained this unit takes a depth hit, but the top 2 defense pairings are still very good. Remove Suter from that equation and it’s still a solid top 2 lines, but not on the same level as with Suter. And with the goalie situation in flux going into 2020-21, a solid defense is going to be imperative to help clean up in front of whoever is in net.
The offensive line combinations are a little more thin with the potential retirement of Mikko Koivu. But the Wild will welcome Kirill Kaprizov into the mix next season as well. Here is how the line combinations look assuming Koivu calls it quits:
|LINE 1||Zach Parise||Eric Staal||Kevin Fiala|
|LINE 2||Mats Zuccarello||Joel Eriksson Ek||Luke Kunin|
|LINE 3||Marcus Foligno||Nico Sturm||Jordan Greenway|
|LINE 4||Ryan Donato||Victor Rask||Ryan Hartman|
Kaprizov will likely slot into either the second line (to start 2020). He could theoretically offset the loss of Zach Parise, but the team would be much better suited if they are able to 1-2 punch with Fiala and Kaprisov on back-to-back lines.
When it comes to team depth, losing Parise would be harder than losing Suter.
It makes the most sense to stick with Ryan Suter, if we’re forced to keep one of these two. The Wild can look to free agency, to replace Parise’s production, and already have Kaprizov ready to come in and play immediately. Keep in mind, the Wild nearly traded Parise before the deadline last season.
Even if Bill Guerin can’t move either contract, we should expect plenty of moves this offseason, as he shapes this roster to his liking. With (potentially) only 2 months between the end of the Stanley Cup Finals and the start of the 2020-21 season, Guerin is going to have to act fast when the offseason phones start ringing…
Seth Toupal | Minnesota Sports Fan