Boston Bruins

Feb 26, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) skates with the puck in the second period during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

After a youth movement that was hit and miss, and another injury-ravaged postseason run, the Bruins wasted no time establishing their top offseason priority. And now it appears that they have found their No. 1 target to help address that.

On the free agent market following a buyout from the Minnesota Wild, there’s “lots of expectation Boston [is] going hard for Ryan Suter,” according to a late Sunday night update from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

A fixture on the Wild’s blue line for the last nine seasons, the 36-year-old Suter is coming off a 2021 campaign that featured three goals and 19 points, along with a plus-9 rating (his best since a plus-34 in 2016-17), in 56 games.

The dip in the 6-foot-1 defender’s offensive production — Suter averaged 0.34 points per game this past season after averaging 0.70 in 2019-20 and 0.57 in 2018-19 — could be slightly concerning to some. But it is worth noting that Suter did have a reduced role on the Minnesota power play (his 2:22 of power-play time on ice per night was a Minnesota-tenure low), and that the Wild’s power play finished the year as the league’s eighth-worst unit after finishing as its 11th-best in 2019-20.

Suter has been a model of durability, too, suiting up for all but nine of a possible 665 games during his Minnesota tenure, with a pair of those absences related to an illness and another two due to suspension. For a Boston defense that (somehow) routinely goes about 10 bodies deep on the backend every postseason, that kind of dependability is simply invaluable.

And in search of a destination where he can compete for a Stanley Cup (Suter has played almost 1,200 career games but has yet to make it out of the second round), the market for the Wisconsin native seems robust, to say the least.

“Lots of teams are interested in Ryan. Lots,” Neil Sheehy, who represents Suter, told The Athletic’s Michael Russo. “I was talking to somebody yesterday that said, ‘There’s not a single team in the league that could have gone through all of their offseason scenarios and exercises and ever thought that Ryan Suter would be available. Now, he is.”

What Suter commands in an open market bidding war, however, will be the true test as it relates to the B’s reported willingness to ‘go hard’ for the 16-year veteran. Sheehy essentially told Russo that Suter isn’t going ring-chasing on a year-to-year basis given his family situation, which would be an indicator that his next chapter will come with a multi-year deal.

Given the Bruins’ upcoming negotiations — Charlie McAvoy, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak will all need new contracts within the next two years — going a year too long or a couple million over their desired price point on Suter could pose problems for the Black and Gold’s future.

But at this point, the Bruins may very well be in true win-now territory and simply worry about what Suter, who has averaged 22 minutes per night in 13 straight seasons, could bring to the table in their quest to make a deep run in 2022.

It’d be one hell of a summer to take that kind of chance, too, with the Bruins slated to enter the 2021 free agent market with over $25 million in cap space (the 10th-most in hockey ahead of the Seattle expansion draft).

In other words, let the hype build.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.