StaTuesday: Wild’s Suter joins exclusive 500-assist club

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Kirill Kaprizov and newcomer Marcus Johansson grabbed the headlines for the Minnesota Wild this past weekend, but veteran Ryan Suter hit a notable landmark as well.

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In Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over Los Angeles, Suter racked up career assist No. 500 (and 501).

Suter became just the 28th defenseman in NHL history to reach that plateau. Only one other active defenseman has reached 500 career assists – Duncan Keith, who has played his entire career in Chicago and entered the league the same season as Suter (2005-06).

Twenty-three of the 28 defensemen to reach 500 assists had that many after the WHA-NHL merger in 1979.

Suter is the seventh American-born defenseman to reach the milestone, and all have done it since 1979. The others: Chris Chelios, Phil Housley, Mark Howe, Brian Leetch, Matthieu Schneider and Gary Suter (Ryan’s uncle).

DEFENSEMEN WITH 500 CAREER ASSISTS

PLAYER ASSISTS
Ray Bourque* 1169
Paul Coffey* 1135
Al MacInnis* 934
Larry Murphy* 929
Phil Housley* 894
Nicklas Lindstrom* 878
Brian Leetch* 781
Chris Chelios* 763
Larry Robinson* 750
Denis Potvin* 742
Scott Stevens* 712
Brad Park* 683
Bobby Orr* 645
Gary Suter 641
Borje Salming* 637
Sergei Zubov* 619
Sergei Gonchar 591
Doug Wilson* 590
Dave Babych 581
Scott Niedermeyer* 568
Mark Howe* 545**
Chris Pronger* 541
Rob Blake* 537
Steve Duchesne 525
Matthieu Schneider 520
Teppo Numminen 520
Duncan Keith 511
Ryan Suter 501

* — Hall of Famer // ** — Howe also had 296 assists in the WHA

Suter’s 500th career assist was also his 300th assist with the Wild, who he joined in 2012-13. Only Mikko Koivu, with 504, has more assists in franchise history.

With Minnesota, Suter has been a remarkably consistent playmaker. He’s averaged half an assist per game with the Wild despite never having a four-assist game. He has seven three-assist games in his career, five with the Wild, the last coming Dec. 15, 2019 at Chicago.

Last season Suter averaged .58 assists per game as he reached 40 assists for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five seasons.

Under contract until the 2024-25 season, Suter, if he can maintain anything near his assists-rate pace with the Wild, should easily become the 18th defenseman (and fifth U.S.-born player) to reach 600 assists (pending Keith, who is, however two years older and whose current deal runs out in 2022-23, and also how you consider WHA assists for Howe).

He’d even have a decent chance to reach 642 – and thus pass Gary Suter and claim the family crown.

Statistics courtesy hockey-reference.com, quanthockey.com and Spotrac