With Ryan Suter having ditched the Nashville Predators for the Minnesota Wild this offseason, and Shea Weber having decided he apparently wants to play in Smashville for the rest of his career (unless there’s a trade at some point!), one question which fans and NHL experts have been pondering is: Will Suter score more points this season, or will Weber? Together they were one of the sickest, slickest defensive combinations the league has seen in years. But apart? Who knows what we’re going to get?
Weber, in some sense, should be fine even without Suter because he is a goal-scoring defenseman. Get him the puck and he’s still going to score goals regardless of who passes it to him. And he’s still going to get his share of assists. Remember, he had 30 last year with guys like Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand and Martin Erat as his primary targets. Erat led the team with all of 58 points. Naturally, Weber is going to miss having Suter by his side, especially if his replacement is, say, the still relatively inexperienced Roman Josi, and he’ll miss that comfortable feeling of knowing Suter’s nuances on the ice, but little has changed up front so he ought to be all right for the most part.
Suter, on the other hand, is a bigger question mark. He moves to a Minnesota Wild team that is something of a paradox given their talent. Dany Heatley led the team in points with 53, but Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard played injury-shortened seasons which naturally affected Heatley’s production. All three of those players are capable of producing 60 points or more, so there is great potential there for Suter to exploit.
And then of course you have to factor in the Wild’s other recent acquisition, Zach Parise. You may have heard of him. He was able to be a wildly successful point-scorer for years on perhaps the only team in the NHL whose penchant for playing boring, defensive hockey is on par with, or exceeds, Minnesota’s: The New Jersey Devils. Will he be able to maintain that scoring level playing with the likes of Heatley and Koivu? Even he drops down a notch, his production would still likely outweigh whatever numbers the rest of his teammates are able to produce. Having all of these targets should be a huge boon to Suter’s numbers, right, even if his possible defensive partner, Jared Spurgeon, is not?
Weber has averaged 48 points a season the past four years, while Suter has averaged 42. If you are going strictly from the standpoint of goals and assists being the mark of who has the better season, Suter obviously stands to gain more from his situation than Weber does, and likely will win this contest. Even with the Wild’s defense-first style of play, don’t be surprised to see Suter eclipse the 50-point mark this year, with Weber slipping down a notch and maxing out at about 45. That being said, Weber will likely be thumbing his nose in Suter’s direction when his team marches into the playoffs and the Wild are left out…assuming of course that the NHL Lockout ever comes to an end.