Minnesota Wild Sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter: How Much Better Will The Team Be?

The two biggest names available on the free agent market signed new contracts on Wednesday morning. For the Edmonton Oilers, the news was not good: both players opted to join a divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild.

How much better will these two players make the Wild?

Obviously, the impact will be huge, but it’s always difficult to quantify exactly how much an individual player can have on a team.

One statistic that attempts to is GVT (goals-versus-threshold). The brainchild of Tom Awad, GVT puts a goal value on every player in the league. Awad explains the statistic here, and while it is far from perfect it’s really the only measure of its kind and it’s a good starting point.

According to GVT, the player with the biggest impact on goal differential (Mike Smith) improved his team by 35 goals. The player with the worst GVT (Dwayne Roloson) hurt his team to the tune of 22 goals. For skaters, the top mark went to Evgeni Malkin (+33.5 GVT) and the bottom mark to Nino Niederreiter (-5.8 GVT).

But wait a minute: Malkin scored 50 goals and 109 points. Why is he only worth 34 goals to his team’s goal differential?

The answer to that question lies primarily in understanding that the choice isn’t between a Penguins team with Evgeni Malkin and a Penguins team with nothing. If there were no Malkin, than Jordan Staal would have played more minutes, Sidney Crosby (when healthy) would have played more minutes and so on down the list.

The Penguins as a team finished 61 goals better than break-even. A year earlier, they played half the season without Malkin or Crosby and finished 39 goals above break-even – there’s a solid team behind the stars, and everyone on it contributes to goal differential. Even the best players in the game are limited in terms of how much impact they can have on a team.

What does GVT say about Zach Parise and Ryan Suter? It had Parise as a top-15 forward (worth +18.6 GVT) and Suter as top-15 defenseman (worth +12.0 GVT). That’s a huge haul for the Wild – an improvement of 31 goals in their overall goal differential.

The Wild, however, were a terrible team last season. By goal differential, the Wild were the second-worst team in the Conference last year – they finished the season having allowed 49 more goals than they scored (22 worse than the Oilers, who finished seven points behind them in the standings).

None of these statistics should be considered iron-clad guarantees. The Oilers, after all, improved their goal differential massively in 2011-12 vs. 2010-11, but moved up a total of one place in the NHL standings. Goal differential, despite being the best indicator of team performance out there, does not mesh perfectly with the standings. Further, GVT is a useful but imperfect tool – it gives us a ballpark figure for a player’s impact on a team but by no means is it a complete picture. It’s an approximation only.

Minnesota should be much improved with the addition of these two players. But they’re starting from such a bad place that these moves seem unlikely to turn them into contenders – if I had to guess today, I’d say they’re moving from a date with a lottery pick to the playoff bubble in the West. That’s a big jump, and not good news for the Oilers. But it’s important not to overstate the effect that even two incredibly gifted players can have on the balance of power in the West.

This week by Jonathan Willis

  • Aitch

    The impact of Suter on Edmonton? Very little. We saw him for four games a season anyhow. It’s just two more games. As Minny goes up, Nashville might come down. No big deal, unless it’s a race for the final/only playoff spot in the division like what happened last year (in the Southeast).

    The worst thing about Parise playing in the same division is that we’ll get reminded of the 2003 draft, five more times a year than we would’ve if he had stayed out east.

  • 50 in 39

    Not saying he would or should,just wondering if Tambelini has the berries to pull off a big deal like this. Seems cant sign Petrey, Gagner, Dubby, etc. Not sure what he is waiting for.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ 50 in 39

    It is unfortunate but Poile is probably a dead GM walking already. He lost control of his best players and watched one walk today with zero return. Suter and Weber made it known over a year ago what their expectations were from the Predators. To bring in Gaustad and Radulov at the deadline must’ve been a laugher and hardly what Suter or Weber had in mind. David tried to run this franchise on a thin budget and now ownership and management are paying the price for these frugal methods.

    Could be the beginning of the end for the Predators in Smashville.

  • DSF

    Minny now has the muscle to scare almost any club in free agent signings . Adding Suter and Parise makes them best in the West . Already now better than Detroit , L.A. and Vancouver with their new additions . Clutterbuck , Konopka , Mitchell , etc.. Their defence could use one more body , but not much else they need to add . Wonder if Brodziak can remain on their club ? Odd defences thought to not be very good , have made the finals last couple of years with only one standout basically . Backstrom an elite goalie coming this season – bank on it .

  • Stocc

    Now that the really good players have been snapped up the rest of the teams can pick over what’s left… which, coincidentally, is exactly how my wife got me.

  • DSF

    JW…your post was so incomplete and shallow it reminds me of a Tambellini news conference.

    The Wild just added an elite winger and an elite defenseman.

    Before that they added one of the best face-off guys in the league in Zenon Konopka who will also throw them with the best.

    They also added a great third line centre in Torrey Mitchell who, despite having an off season, is a bitch to play against.

    Then you look at their prospects, many of whom should be about to graduate.

    Mikael Granlund (9th overall) led the SM Liga in PPG.

    Charlie Coyle (28th overall was a Memorial Cup standout).

    Ditto Zack Phillips (28th overall)

    Johann Larsson (56 overall) 36 points SEL.

    Brett Bulmer (39th overall) 1.2 PPG Kelowna Rockets.

    Jonas Brodin (blue chip D prospect)

    Matt Dumba

    For example, here is the Wild centre depth.

    Mikko Koivu
    Mikael Granlund
    Torrey Mitchell
    Kyle Brodziak
    Zenon Konopka
    Matt Cullen
    Charlie Coyle
    Zack Phillips

    Yikes.

    And not only is this team skilled but it’s also huge and mean.

    Konopka 6’0″ 220
    Brodziak 6″2″ 210
    Heatley 6’4″ 220
    Koivu 6’2″ 220
    Kassian 6’4″ 235
    Falk 6’5″ 215
    Stoner 6’3″ 225
    Coyle 6’2″ 210
    Palmieri 6’3″ 220
    Bulmer 6’3″ 190

    And then you have Clutterbuck who plays like he’s 6’5 240 and soon Dumba who hits like a truck.

    • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

      There is really not much more than can be expected from a know it all like Jonathan Willis. At one point he simply loved to cherry pick stats to push points across.
      Just look at one of his recent posts at the Edmonton Journal. Calling out another blogger just like him in a childish form.

      How he got a rep, I will never understand.

          • Is that your way of telling me I shouldn’t argue with you? 😉

            Anyway – I wasn’t ignoring Granlund et al.; as I said “I like their prospect crop just fine – there’s a lot of excellent talent there.” I was just pointing out that you were overstating the case.

            Additionally, go count how many faceoffs Mitchell took on NHL.com. He was San Jose’s 7th faceoff option last season, and has always primarily been used on the wing in the NHL.

            As for defensive depth, I’ve been arguing for *literally* years that the Oilers’ isn’t very good. But, yeah, when Scandella/Spurgeon are #3/#4 on the depth chart, I think it’s fair to suggest the club might want to upgrade their defense before calling them “elite”.

          • Wax Man Riley

            BTW…. Me posting on OilersNation with Struds, Gregor, and Brownlee make me more of a HockeyInsiderr than HockeyInsiderr, lol

            Seen that guy’s account and you may as well follow Ecklund for your insider tips…

            or me @Riley_Kim

            I’ll get you all the juice

          • DSF

            Jon, the problem is, the premise of your argument as stated in your original post was fatally flawed and, thus, so are your conclusions.

            You said:

            “Minnesota should be much improved with the addition of these two players. But they’re starting from such a bad place that these moves seem unlikely to turn them into contenders – if I had to guess today, I’d say they’re moving from a date with a lottery pick to the playoff bubble in the West.”

            You based that specious conclusion on the Wild only adding Parise and Suter while totally ignoring everything else the team has done and the blue chip prospects they have coming up.

            They will also be adding, at minimum, one of the best faceoff men in the league, the Finnish leagues top scorer and Torrey Mitchell.

            Your view of their defense might be a little closer to reality but remember, with Suter on board, everyone moves down a spot and, since we started this discussion, the Wild have also signed Jake Dowell,

            In the meantime, the Oilers signed Dane Byers.

            I’d wager the Wild are conference champion contenders.

            Wanna bet?

          • Wanyes bastard child

            I’ll take that bet!

            If the Wild aren’t conference champion contenders you delete your account and never come back to ON, if they are i’ll delete my account and never come back to ON, sound good?

          • Wax Man Riley

            I’ll say it… nooooo…. I love when DSF posts, it creates like, 50 comments minimum.

            And if the skies and heavens open up, and Nuge pots 80 pts, Hall pots 40 goals, and Ebs nets 35, when The Oilers take the Conference title this year (did I mention that Schultz gets both The Norris and The Calder), I want to say to DSF…

            SAY SOMETHING!!

    • DSF

      Please give me a fu#&@ing break, yeah so what its a better team team than the Oilers and Flames(which is not saying much) but do you think teams like Vancouver and LA are scared?? Don’t think so.

      • DSF

        Vancouver and LA have very good teams. Why would they be scared?

        Thing is, the Wild have vaulted into the elite.

        Makes it tougher for the bottom feeders to move up.

    • Incomplete and shallow?

      1) Torrey Mitchell is not a centre.

      2) I love Konopka, but let’s not overstate the importance of the fourth-line centre position.

      3) I like their prospect crop just fine – there’s a lot of excellent talent there, but you’re wearing your rose-coloured glasses. Bulmer’s the same age as Tyler Pitlick but had worse numbers in junior. Phillips is a good player but has skating issues and his offense regressed in the ‘Q’ this year.

      4) You hilariously list Matt Cullen – a top-six scorer on the Wild last season – as their fifth-best centre. He didn’t play a single game where he saw less than 20 shifts last season.

      Now, this post was never intended to preview the Wild as a whole – rather, to look specifically at the potential impact of a pair of high-end free agents. However, if it had been, it would not have been anywhere near as doom-and-gloom as your comment was. All the shiny prospects in the world don’t change the fact that Minnesota had not one 25-goal scorer, not one 60-point man, or that last year’s team faded down the stretch worse than 29 other clubs in the league. Nor does it change the fact that the defense is somewhat on the suspect side – Tom Gilbert, a guy you never tired of reminding us would be lucky to crack the top-4 in Vancouver, is the club’s second-best defenseman and the rest of the top-four is 5’9″ 22-year old Jared Spurgeon and 22-year old Marco Scandella.

      Yikes.

      • DSF

        1) Yes he is.
        http://wild.nhl.com/club/stats.htm

        2) Konopka is a whole loytof grit and toughness and wins almost 60% of his face-offs.

        3) Brett Bulmer is about 12th on their prospect list. Hardly a hill to die on.

        4) Zack Phillips scored 1.33 PPG this past season…and 1.44 the season before. Injury.

        Important to note you have totally ignored the Wild’s best prospects who are Granlund, Coyle and Brodin.

        4) With Koivu, Granlund, Brodziak and Mitchell in the mix, Cullen could be anywhere from 2nd line to 4th line. Hilarious problem to have.

        5) Your final point is both incomplete and shallow. Minneosta now has Koivu (72 point career high), Heatley (two time 50 goal scorer), former 65 point scorer Setoguchi.
        If you think they’re defense is suspect with Suter, Gilbert, Falk, Stoner, Spurgeon and Scandlla. I suggest you cast an eye toward the Oilers D.

        Oh, and they also have two actual NHL goaltenders.

        Good grief.

        • oldhippy

          Oh good grief, DSF, Take Suter out of that picture and man for man, Oilers are a much better D and the one more likely to improve. Outside of Sutton our D is pretty young. All have improved year over year, and I see no reason that we won’t see continued improvement in Smid, Petry, and Potter. Schultz2 will very likely be a huge step up from Barker. If Whitney can be 80% of what he used to be, he’s as good as Gilbert. At 100% it’s not even close. And Gilbert is the number 2 Dman.

          • DSF

            Why would you take Suter out of the picture?

            Suter >>>>Smid

            Gilbert >>>Petry

            Potter? Good grief…he’s almost 29.

            Shultz1 is 30.

            Whitney is done.

            Sutton is 37.

            Klefbom looks like he might be a good one but is he better than Brodin, Falk, Scandella or Dumba?

            He better be.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Sutton plays a good role for a #7 . Gilbert has more experience than Petry, but I bet they are on par this year.

            So what if Schultz is 30, that is defenseman prime.

            After Suter, The Wild are pretty thin.

      • Wax Man Riley

        He’s not wrong about Mitchell. Just 83 draws last year and was 43%. Not exactly decent numbers.

        I actually found this move odd. The team does have a very good centre in Koivu and if he’s healthy and his head is on straight Pierre Marc Bouchard is a pretty good playmaker. But Heatley and Setoguchi have never really been the same in the last 2 seasons and their defence outside of Suter is not much better than Edmonton’s. They also lack forward depth which is necessary to contend for the cup. Clutterbuck hits like a truck but he’s a little overrated as he doesn’t boast much offensive or defensive ability. Then they have question marks in Cullen, who struggled, and Brodziak, because there should be questions on whether he can replicate and sustain his offense next season and should he be playing 19 minutes a game because if he’s your 2nd line center can you contend.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I don’t think the Wild have vaulted into the elite.

      They are entrenched in “very good looking on paper.” but have a way to go before they hit “elite.”

      Their #2 defense behind Suter is Gilbert. I think yo uwere ripping up the Oilers for having Gilbert as the best D behind Whitney. After Gilbert it is pretty much AHL plugs, and NHL maybes.

      Good looking forwards. Pretty thin in the back though..

    • oilersplumber

      ………..damn for a minute there I thought I was on wildnation.com………

      DSF………all of those are factual statistics……and yes…they may be a force to be reckoned with……..on paper anyway…..last I checked the score board though………it registered goals….not potentiate bluesky progonostications…..you see my old eyes and brain tell me to get those goals to the scoreboard……you need C H E M I S T R Y……and until the seasons underway…..it may be all just test tube talk…….

  • paul wodehouse

    DSF as well… the idea that if the six mil Backstrom is getting in this his contract year had any bearing on this team moving forward this wonderfully presented team of Wild you have here may in fact sky rocket and play who… the kings… in the 2012-2013 conference final no?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ DSF

    Anyway we can fleece Coyle from the Wild?

    Looks like a decent list but how many kids could the Wild afford to graduate in October so close to the cap already? What’s going to happen in Minny if the cap gets rolled back to 65 mill in the new CBA?

    Anything on that list you think the Oilers can afford?

    • DSF

      I can’t think of one thing on that list that the Oilers could afford unless they are willing to give up one of the Wunderkids.

      The cap roll back will affect all teams equally so I would imagine salary rollbacks will be part of the deal.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I would never agree with DSF on any statistics he lays down in his posts, but I do think Minnesota has gotten meaner, bigger and may have solved there depth and goal scoring problem. They do look scary, imagine if Boo was still there. R.I.P.

    They can compete with Vancouver anyday, something the oilers can not do at this time.

  • RexLibris

    The Northwest just got very interesting.

    The Canucks and Oilers are the two teams that I believe have the least to worry about. Why? Because the Canucks still have enough talent to win most games on any given night and can play a number of different styles (though none that don’t involve some daytime-emmy-winning drama).

    The Oilers ought to be able to score and it appears will have just enough physical presence to keep their heads above water, but aren’t really expected to be a playoff team this year.

    The Flames and Avalanche on the other hand, ought to be very concerned. Minnesota has basically shifted the balance of points taken in this division so that the Flames and Avalanche will no longer be able to feast on either the Oilers or Wild and thus inflate their record.

    Take a look at the Flames front six forwards and tell me if you think guys like Konopka and Clutterbuck won’t be running roughshod over that small lineup? I say this because we Oiler fans have been there so recently and have first-hand experience of what a Gagner-Nilsson-Cogliano line can do against a big strong Wild team.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    @Quicksilver

    True enough, but it sure would be nice to have NHL depth, cant always rely on rookies(or the Barkers,and Potters) to carry the team….unless you want to be drafting in the top 5 for the next 10yrs.

    ST just seems to talk just for the sake of talking never doing.

    With Whitney,Smid(I think)and Boozin off the books next yr and Smytty, and Hemsky the yr after, why not lock a guy like Carle down for the next 5yrs at least you know what you’ll get with him, whos to say Klefbom,Maricin, and Davidson pan out if they do great but if not then what is my question.

  • No doubt the Wild just got better how could they not, I don’t like the signings because there boat anchor signings and not nearly worth 98 million.

    If it doesn’t work out in the next two years (and it wont) the Wild will be in the same spot as the Canucks with Luongo,

    In fact I can’t think of any long term contract working out so far?

    Then of course there is the Heatly issue, no team has ever won with this dud on the team. How long will it be before Parise & Suter won’t take Heatly’s melodramatic antics and soft play?

    This is still the team that scored the least amount of goals in the NHL.

    Interesting time’s anyways, that being said the Wild will be better, how could they not be…..

  • oldhippy

    All fans are guilty of overstating the quality of their team. We all forget that change doesn’t occur in a vacuum. While teams are plucking free agents from other teams, they are also getting plucked. In the end you end up with your 23 man roster to start the season. If you brought in someone new, someone has to go. When you bring in huge salary it means something has to give somewhere down the roster. In Minnesota’s case they have 2 D that are going to have to log huge minutes and a whole bunch of guys that needed to wear name tags at the NHL awards. And one of those guys is named Gilbert. Suter is a hell of a Defenceman and one of the best but, he isn’t really that big and doesn’t play that physical. How will he play without the slab of muscle next to him? Somehow I don’t think he’ll have as much time and space from the point without Weber’s presence on the other side.

    They will be an improved club, but not as much as $15+m should buy.

  • oldhippy

    I think that the Wild are probably a bubble playoff team next season but going forward, they have a nice group of prospects. I wouldn’t mind ending up in another division than them after alignment eventually takes place.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Minnesota will be a decent team if Parise and Suter can gel with the rest in the first year, but there is no way I spot them a cup or spot Fletcher GM of the year for signing 2 big names that colluded to go there.

    Although I will defo give him the Konopka signing. Woulda loved him in E-town

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Ah, the uber troll rouses himself in his mama’s basement and ON loses its collective sh!t. Where was he, I ask, during the JS festivities? No matter, his fanciful use of stats to make his silly points is always fun to dissect. Exhibit A:calling Zenon Konopka one of the “best faceoff men in the league”. Except he didn’t even have enough faceoffs to qualify him for the NHL’s list of 89 faceoff leaders, with under 400 faceoffs this past season, well under the required number to qualify for the leader list. Eric Belanger, by contrast had over 1000 faceoffs, and won more than ZK even took. Sure, ZK is a tough fourth liner who managed to score almost as many points as Lennart Petrell but is his signing really such a coup? Mikael Granlund had better than a point per game in the Finnish elite league. What does that predict in the NHL? I don’t know. But apparently DSF does. Will any of Coyle, Phillips, Larson, Brodin, Dumba, Bulmer even play in the NHL next year? I doubt it. And now a word about Parise. A useful player, to be sure, but “elite”? Less points this year than one Eberle, Jordan, and a -5 +/-. Still hasn’t really shown a return to his 2009 form since the knee injury 2 years ago. And a cap hit of a billion dollars for the next century? Given how free agents have performed over the past few years I would say it is a bit of a gamble. And I love DSF’s lack of cojones when laying his bet. Hey DSF – every team is a “conference champion contender” before the first puck is dropped. What does that mean? Are the Wild going to win the conference or not? Put up or please please please shut up.

    • SLAM

      See, how it works in DSF world is…

      1) If the prospect is not an Oiler prospect, he will instantly be at maximum potential next season. If he is, he’s gonna be not as good as you think.

      2) If the team in question is not the Oilers, then every member of the team is a superstar and will also reach maximum potential. If it is the Oilers then everyone is a bum because he says so.

      3) Everything that the Oilers touch instantly has a down arrow. Everything that any other team does instantly has an up arrow when compared to the Oilers.

      4) Everyone else is wrong because of a different xyz stat and projection, if it turns out that those don’t reflect reality, go back to 4.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I hate to say it, but over the last 6 seasons, and after 30,30,29 place finishes….

        …Most of what you described has been true in the league, lol.

        Also, what if Minny turns out to be the read deal? Worst case scenario:

        Heatley gets a cup….

        …crap.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I do have to comment on one other thing. You always cite other teams on how they have all these elite prospects etc. etc. But on Hockey Future, which is a very good site on rating prospects, Minnesota is ranked 17th in the NHL. They do have a great prospect in Mikael Granlund and a very good prospect in Charlie Coyle but the reason teams like Florida, Ottawa, NYI, and Edmonton are ranked so high is because of the depth they boast. Brodin is a good prospect but there are big issues regarding size because he’s about 6’1 160. After that it’s Zach Phillips who projects as a two way forward but he’s hardly a lock. Then its fairly middling prospects who have the potential to be depth or call ups. That’s not exactly a great prospect pool because inevitably the majority of your prospects either never see a NHL game or just play a handful of games, even if you have a deep prospect pool.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Wow. What a day in Minnesota. With what the Kreskin of hockey stats(DSF) says, why even bother playing next years games- just hand over the cup to the wild. On paper, these signings are impressive and the wild’s roster is formidable… however hockey isn’t played on paper.

    After a couple years missing the playoffs when Suter demands a trade, maybe he would like to be reunited with Weber on the oil’s blue.

    • paul wodehouse

      …haven’t heard anyone say that these two grabbed the brass ring from this particular less than formidable team because of money and term only …max max and more max…and because hockey’s NOT played on parchment my point is do they or …did they know that they needed to get this deal done because there’s gonna be a (CBA) work stoppage and their money’s in the bank now …?

      have these two really colluded as one suggested? was there something telling them they should act now and worry about breaking the bad news to their team a few years later by asking for a trade outta there when the coast was clear???

      for the life of me why did these two go to this team???

      Zack?
      Ryan?
      wtf?

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Wanyes bastard child wrote:

    I’ll take that bet!

    If the Wild aren’t conference champion contenders you delete your account and never come back to ON, if they are i’ll delete my account and never come back to ON, sound good?

    you probably got a better chance seeing brownlee win a bikini contest than seeing DSF agree to the bet.

    after seeing DSF around the internets for a while now, i can only assume his nutsack retreated back into his body when he saw his BS talk called. He will ignore your agreeing to his bet, and he will ignore anyone else trying to call him on his bet as well… just as DSF does.

    In typical DSF fashion, he shows up, runs his mouth, says something stupid, and refuses to back it up.

    If he, for some reason, actually nuts up and agrees to the brownlee ban wager, i will be first to apologize to him.

  • Cableguy: As amusing as this purse fight is (I’m sure the website welcomes the resulting traffic), I’m having difficulty with how you’ve made the leap to a “brownlee ban.”

    Nerds bickering with each other and making bets (they’ll never keep) because they WON’T BACK DOWN on an internet website won’t result in a “brownlee ban.” Swing those Gucci knock-offs at each other if you must.

    You are, however, risking a “brownlee ban” with the bikini contest comment. I’d win, and rather easily, Bub.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Heated hawkey discussion in July, so much passion remains. This is great.

    Where can one get said Gucci knockoff, if one wanted to enter into this fray?

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    @Brownlee

    the brownlee ban comment was more towards the bet that the basturd child was trying to make with the basturd…. in my small little walnut brain, they would essentially be betting a brownlee ban… as in outta here…

    but, alas, nothing will come of it, so we are left to fill our gucci knock offs with other stuff…

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    I must say DSF is hiliarious and the passion that he evokes makes it worth reading every post.

    I would equate DSF’s (slanted) views to watching a midget run. And the best part is that everyone is trying to tell him he’ll never win an Olympic medal but he argues that special Olympics are still Olympics.

    If I was in charge of marketing for either the Nation or the Oilers I’d be giving this guy a $2 gift certificate to the Liquor Barn every time he got someone to reply to him. Why the Liquor Barn? Because logical reasoning doesn’t get that distorted without alcohol!

    Nice work boys!