DETROIT -- Growth and development patterns for young players in the NHL can vary from player to player. With the right club and coaching staff, that trajectory can be accelerated.
It wasn't that long ago that center Pius Suter was signed as an undrafted forward from Switzerland by the Chicago Blackhawks. In the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, Suter showed flashes of the NHL player he could be, finishing with 14 goals and 13 assists in 55 games.
After Chicago did not extend him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, Suter inked a two-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, with hopes that he could make another jump and fit into the Red Wings' young core.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Suter has grown into his role.
"He's got great hockey sense both offensively and defensively. He is around the opponent's net. He is very, very good in those areas with the stick," Blashill said. "That's where he scores all his goals. I think he's done a good job since we've used him fairly regularly on the PK. Smart defensively. So, he's a good, all-around player."
Suter said he has felt more comfortable with Detroit in his second season than his rookie campaign in Chicago.
"I was probably more ready… I don't think it was as much (of a transition) as last year," Suter said. "Also, I know a few teams and how the game is played. I felt more comfortable starting here than I did last year."
After producing seven points in his first 20 games this season, Suter increased his offensive production, earning seven points in an eight-game span from Nov. 24 to Dec. 10.
On the season, Suter is up to 15 points on five goals and 10 assists in playing all 31 contests.
Video: BUF@DET: Suter puts home blueline shot to take lead
"Obviously with a guy who has been in the league one year, I wasn't totally certain how good he was going to be," Blashill said. "I knew he had played good hockey against us last year. He's made good decisions with the puck. He's smart. He's good defensively, and in a smart way. I would say he definitely has met the expectations."
Suter said he notices a different level of comfortability to his game this season.
"I think I am probably more in the right positions. Knowing how other guys react or how some of the guys played. I've played a few teams now and as for growing, you kind of adjust your game, too," Suter said. "It goes quicker. You automatically have to play quicker, which makes you better in practices and in games. You kind of improve automatically by making quicker plays and reading the game. Sometimes it's easier and sometimes it's harder because you know when it's not going well, it's like, 'Yeah, I should be able to get a bit more going.' So, it's a two-way street."
Although Suter started breaking through offensively at the end of November, Blashill said his line hasn't quite clicked the way it's capable.
"His line hasn't had quite as much offensive success as I think they've actually created," Blashill said. "I think over time, whoever is with him, they've got an opportunity to continue to create more."
Video: MTL@DET: Suter whips a shot in from the high slot
Creating and capitalizing on opportunities is effective when there is good chemistry. Suter said he and primary linemates Filip Zadina and Robby Fabbri are on the same page.
"I think chemistry has been good. We would like to create a little bit more, but we have some good O-zone shifts," Suter said. "You know, get the puck down and get it back, then get some shots. I think it's been good. Definitely, the chemistry is here."
Red Wings players - rookies and veterans alike - have repeatedly referenced how much they like being around each other. Goalie Thomas Greiss is the oldest player on the team at 35 years old, while rookie forward Lucas Raymond is the youngest player at 19. At the start of the season, the Red Wings had the seventh-youngest roster in the NHL with an average age of 26.86 years.
Suter, 25, falls right into the mix. In fact, being part of a young core was one of the reasons he signed with Detroit.
"With the age group here, that's what I was looking for, too," Suter said. "We're all the same age, so there are opportunities to play well, get good ice time and show you can be part of the future."