Pius Suter was simple and effective in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks: Year in Review

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
24 days ago
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Simple, yet effective.
That was the name of the game for Pius Suter during his first season with the Vancouver Canucks.
Sure, you may not have seen him on the ice when his team needed a late-game-tying goal. No, he wasn’t headlining the team’s top-unit power play unit. Heck, unless you’re a regular viewer of this team, you may not even recognize his name on the ice.
But what he did do was round out the Canucks’ lineup, playing versatile minutes to serve as a complementary fixture to the team’s top-nine lineup. And he did so incredibly effectively.
All at a cost-effective $1.6 million price tag, we might add.

The Counting Stats

For the first time in his career, Suter dealt with a health setback. Since breaking into the league in mid-January of the 2020-21 season, he had only missed a combined four games (212 of 216).
This season, he suffered a groin strain in mid-November, forcing him to miss just over a month of action and limiting his regular season slate to just 67 games.
Had it not been for the time away, the Swiss forward set himself up nicely for what could have been career numbers across the board.
GamesGoalsAssistsPoints+/-Avg. TOI
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Not only did he finish just one goal short of his career-best (15) at the NHL level, but he was on an 82-game pace to finish one point back of his highest point totals (36).
While his offensive numbers were somewhat pedestrian, his contributions in all other areas are what set him apart and made him a low-key, but necessary asset for this successful 2023-24 campaign.
Say what you will about the statistic, but his plus/minus was a number that stood out as a true outlier from his previous career totals. Not only was he a plus player for the first time in his career (his previous best was a minus-3), but he also finished seventh-best among Canuck forwards with a plus-17, which put him in the top-38 among all NHL forwards.
We all know that Suter was not brought in to stack up offensive numbers but for the meat and potatoes zones. With career-high hits (53) and an almost career-high face-off percentage (49.3%) combined with his high plus/minus stats, it’s safe to say that he delivered the goods.
But he wasn’t just posting good numbers for himself. He was also doing an adequate job at making those who played with him better.
To get even further into his low-key success, you have to look under the hood.

The Fancy Stats

Corsi (CF)Expected Goals (xGF)Scoring Chance Control (SCF)High-Danger Chance Control (HDCF)
At even strength, Suter was only on the ice for a measly 20 goals against. Only one player among full-time skaters (60-plus games) was on the ice for fewer goals, and that player was Dakota Joshua (19). The Swiss pivot led the charge in GF% with 66.10% on the season.
For those unaware, GF% (Goals For %) is a ratio of the goals scored and goals against when a player is on the ice in 5v5 play.
He also finished second among the forward group and third among all full-timers on the team with his above-average Corsi percentage (53.77%). He was also third on the team in high-danger scoring differential (59.67%).
All this to say, he was a true difference-maker this year. But it wasn’t just for himself. He made a season out of making those around him better.
According to Dobber’s Frozen Tools, Suter played nearly a quarter of his 5v5 season alongside Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller. As a unit, the trio only allowed four goals during their 196:02 minutes together, maintaining a 59.5% CF.
Both players enjoyed the benefit of playing alongside Suter, and while both performed admirably without him by their side, he also gave them a spark.
Corsi with SuterCorsi without SuterExpected Goals with SuterExpected Goals without Suter
J.T. Miller59.67%49.44%80.95%62.71%
Brock Boeser57.27%49.13%80.00%60.71%
As you see from the numbers above, both Boeser and Miller enjoyed elevated Corsi numbers when placed with Suter, as opposed to playing without him. Both generated GF% in the 80s with him and dropped to the low 60s without him.
But it wasn’t just them.
Five out of the top six forwards to skate with Suter showed higher Corsi numbers, with the lone exception being Ilya Mikheyev.
Corsi with SuterCorsi without SuterExpected Goals with SuterExpected Goals without Suter
Elias Pettersson56.49%52.82%60.00%58.54%
Conor Garland58.57%54.73%75.00%68.25%
Dakota Joshua53.01%49.39%60.00%70.00%
Yes, the sample size with the above names is far smaller. But it still paints a pretty picture, and at some point, credit has to be given where it’s due.

The Playoffs

While he only contributed a goal and two assists across his 13 playoff games, his advanced metrics remained true. The band of Miller, Boeser, and Suter was back together, playing 70.4% of the time together. This time, maintaining a 53.3% CF.
And wouldn’t you know it, his linemates’ numbers swayed when they weren’t with him.
No, Pius Suter is, and likely will never become a household name. However, he’s proven to track reliable and beneficial stats no matter where he’s placed. With an ability to move around the lineup from wing to center and situate himself on either special teams unit, his versatility has become a true asset to this franchise.
To put a cherry on top of it all, the 28-year-old is locked up for another season at a cost that is less than the ghost of OEL’s contract. The cost of nearly an entire minor league contract is cheaper, by the way ($746,667).
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