Can Alex Goligoski successfully replace Ryan Suter?

Hockey Wilderness

The second his name was on a contract for him to sign, Alex Goligoski was crowned as one of the Minnesota Wild’s top defensemen. Not in terms of actual ability on the ice, but with just a one-year, $5-million contract signed (and a somewhat lucrative verbal agreement to have a multi-year extension with less salary if everything works out) it seems that he’s going to take over the role next to captain Jared Spurgeon in the top four.

A predictable pairing if there ever was one, the two now veteran defenders can cooperate in a fresh version of the pairing with Spurgeon and Ryan Suter had together, before the latter was bought out of the final four years of his contract, alongside friend Zach Parise.

The second Suter signed his enormous contract in Minnesota during the summer of 2012, and became the instant leader on the blue line, he was stapled to Spurgeon’s side on the ice. When both players were on the same roster starting in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, neither of them had more minutes at 5-on-5 with any other player. They were inseparable and just an instant connection that resulted in eight seasons of very sound hockey played by the Wild. Anchors at the back.

It’s somewhat being downplayed this season that such a longstanding partnership is suddenly broken with Suter’s contract thrown into the center of a looming cap hell and signing a new, fresh deal with the Dallas Stars. Off the top of my head (albeit not very smart at times) I cannot recall a standing defensive pairing that has had a longer run of games together. Maybe it’s just being in Minnesota and not winning that many games after the regular season, but the chemistry between Spurgeon and Suter is undeniable — and that chemistry led to the Wild being a much better team when they were on the ice. Of the 191 pairings that had at least 400 minutes together at 5-on-5 through the last three seasons, those two earned the 20th-highest expected goals share and no one played more minutes. Seriously, no other pairing had spent more time on the ice together than Suter and Spurgeon since the 2018-19 season.

They just completely dominate the quality of chances and can keep that up for an ungodly amount of time. You think they would be sick of each other, but it just works. Like a happy, stable marriage.

Well they got a divorce and your new stepdad is named Alex Goligoski.

#hockey, #nhl

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