Pius Suter could be in position for a career year with the Vancouver Canucks
Photo credit:@nilshoglander & @pius_suter on IG
By Faber1 month ago
Lots of time will be spent talking about the newest signing of the Vancouver Canucks being a solid defensive player who can help on the penalty kill and play down the middle for a team that desperately needed to address their third-line centre position.
Pius Suter is more than likely going to be an upgrade on what the Canucks ran out there at third-line centre last season with names like Sheldon Dries, Curtis Lazar, and Nils Åman getting some runs at the 3C position.
There’s a much higher level of comfortability with Suter coming in and eating up those minutes, and it also pushes Teddy Blueger down to the fourth line — a spot where he will blend into nicely.
Suter has played three seasons in the NHL — he played his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season and then played two years with the Detroit Red Wings after signing a two-year contract with an average annual value of $3,250,000. Suter scored between 14 and 15 goals in each of those three seasons and it’s not like he was finding all of those goals on the power play, in fact, he has only scored one power play goal over his three-year career and has produced more red lights while playing on the penalty kill.
Stats from HockeyReference.com
A situation now presents itself for Suter to have the best offensive season of his young NHL career. It is likely that he is going to have the most talented wingers he has ever had over his time in the NHL after playing on a weak Detroit team. Suter played alongside Alex DeBrincat and Patrik Kane in the 2020-21 season and showed extremely well as a rookie. He was scoring at a 20-goal pace and only had one power play goal that season.
Advanced stats from NaturalStatTrick.com
We heard from Suter on Friday as he met with the media for the first time via Zoom.
“I mean, I certainly hope so,” said Suter when asked if he thinks he will be able to create more offence in his new role with the Canucks during his introductory media availability. “In the shortened season, I was kind of on the pace for that and [I will] try to get there again.”
As for his expectations about the Canucks, here’s what Suter had to say.
“There is a there’s a lot of skill and playmaking,” said Suter when he was asked about his expectations of joining the Canucks. “The skill players shoot well and I think we can take a step forward from the past season, and I’m just looking forward to that.”
So, after scoring at a 20-goal pace in Chicago with some very talented offensive players, Suter moved down the lineup in Detroit and still continued to produce at a solid, third-line centre level but he may be able to unlock that 20-goal scoring potential next season as he will have some offensively gifted players around him.
The first name that comes to mind when we imagine who will be a winger for Suter on the third line is Conor Garland. The feisty spin-o-rama king probably isn’t playing in the top-six to begin the season but should help drive the third line as one of the wingers who have some offensive pop at five-on-five.
Over the past two seasons, Garland is second in assists per 60 minutes at five-on-five with the Canucks while Suter was second in goals per 60 last year with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps this combination of Garland’s possession play and passing ability will co-exist with Suter’s finishing ability and we will see a third line that challenges their opposition to keep up with their offence.
As the other winger, there’s a case for Nils Höglander, Vasily Podkolzin, Phil Di Giuseppe, Dakota Joshua, or Tanner Pearson (if healthy) to win the job on the third line. Or potentially, we see one of those aforementioned wingers slide into the top-six and one of Anthony Beauvillier or Brock Boeser is bumped to a third-line role.
It’s going to be difficult for us to see Rick Tocchet go with a Höglander-Suter-Garland trio as there’s a clear lack of size there. Our projection would be Podkolzin-Suter-Garland. And if Podkolzin can gain his dad-strength early and find a scoring touch, we could be looking at a very exciting third line that can play above their opposition on both ends.
In the end, Suter brings a strong defensive style of play but we can see a world where his offence takes a step back to what it was like in Chicago when he was on a 20-goal pace. If Garland can get back to being an excellent creator of offence at five-on-five and Tocchet can find the right third to compliment that duo, the Canucks may have finally figured out their problem at 3C. And it only costs them $1,600,000 per season over the next two years.
It feels like there’s not a lot of risk at all and plenty of upside.
Next season could be Pius Suter’s best offensive year of his young NHL career.
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