The one thing we all learned this season is Ryan Suter won’t be lost without Shea Weber.
That might have been the biggest question mark after the Wild signed Suter, the longtime former Nashville Predator who was paired for most of his career with one guy — the hard-shooting, hard-hitting Weber.
But not only did Suter adjust quite well, Tuesday morning he learned he had been selected for the first time as a finalist for the Norris Trophy (NHL’s best defenseman).
“He’s a big part of why Shea Weber was Shea Weber,” said Wild forward Jake Dowell, Suter’s college roommate at Wisconsin and so close with the Wild stalwart defenseman that the two were groomsmen in each other’s weddings.
“Shea Weber is a great player, but Ryan’s proved to a lot of people that he’s that caliber of a player as well. He was incredible this year.”
Suter, 28, led the NHL in average ice time (27 minutes, 16 seconds) a game, finished third among defensemen in points (32) behind Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and second in assists (28) behind Letang.
Subban and Letang are the other finalists, incidentally, and the winner will be announced in June.
“Without all my teammates, I’m not going to be on that list,” Suter said of the honor. “Playing with [defense partner] Jonas [Brodin], he’s a good, young player. It’s kind of a shame he didn’t get nominated for the Calder [on Monday].
“But I don’t look at it personally. I couldn’t have done it without a great team and great goaltending and the whole package.”
It’s that kind of humility that really makes Suter special, coach Mike Yeo said.
“You don’t realize what a good person this is, you don’t realize what a tremendous leader he is, the character that he has,” Yeo said. “He’s been a huge part, obviously with his play, but as much with his attitude, his character, his personality in really helping our organization take a big step
“We knew there was going to be a bit of an adjustment period — new system, new teammates, new partner. There were a lot of things for him to get used to. … He adjusted relatively quickly if you think about all those things. Once he really started to get on top of his game, it was clear the effect that it had on the rest of our team.”