Ryan Suter thinks he can play until age 45

Jeff Bottari / National Hockey League / Getty

Ryan Suter may be 36 years old, but he believes he's entering his prime.

"I think I can play until I'm 45 if I want," the newest Dallas Stars defenseman said Thursday, according to NHL.com's Tracey Myers. "I just think the way I play. My play hasn't gone down over the last 10 years. I think it's actually gotten better."

Suter signed a four-year deal with the Stars on Wednesday at $3.65-million per season. The contract takes him through his age-40 campaign. The Minnesota Wild bought out the final four seasons ($7.54-million AAV) of Suter's deal on July 13.

The former Nashville Predator is coming off arguably his worst campaign in over a decade. His 0.34 points per game were his worst since 2006-07, and his average ice time of 22:11 was his lowest since 2007-08.

The analytics suggest Suter is declining:

However, the Stars, and other teams Suter talked to, believe he'll age gracefully.

"It was a good conversation I had with all the teams, and a lot of them felt the same way I did, like, 'You can play as long as you want the way you play. You really don't get hit that often. You think the game, you make good hard passes, you're in shape, you take care of your body,'" Suter said. "So just kind of all those things give me a lot of confidence that I can play after this contract if I want to."

Stars general manager Jim Nill compared Suter to a certain Hall of Fame defenseman who displayed some uncanny longevity.

"He reminds me a lot of Chris Chelios when I was in Detroit, one of those guys who doesn't seem to age," Nill said Wednesday. "He's the type of player that can be on a minute-and-a-half shift, come back to the bench, and in 10 seconds, the coach can tap him on the shoulder, he's ready to go again. He's a heavy body, he's got iron lungs, and he's a great skater."

Suter will join a stellar defense core in Dallas that features Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Andrej Sekera, Jani Hakanpaa, and Joel Hanley.

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Ryan Suter thinks he can play until age 45
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