Pretty well every team with any cap space around the league is going to kick the tires on Ryan Suter, a 7th overall pick in 2003, this summer. The 6'1", 195lb defenceman will be among the most sought after players on July 1st this year. Suter's 4 year, 14 million dollar contract with the Nashville Predators expires this year. Suter refused to comment too much about his contract situation earlier in the season, but the general idea was that he would resign if Nashville could bring him a cup in the near future. Well, this year Nashville went for it. Poile brought in Gill, Gaustad, Andrei Kostitsyn and Radulov in order to bolster his team for a run at the cup. Last night, the Predators were eliminated in a 2-1 loss to
the Phoenix Bettman's Coyotes despite Suter notching an assist on Nashville's lone goal. The question is whether Suter will perceive this loss as the end of the road in Nashville or a new beginning. Personally, I think he'll want out.
Suter is quickly emerging as one of the league's elite shut-down defencemen. This past season, he recorded career-high numbers, notching 7 goals and 39 assists for 46 points and a +15 on the season. On a Nashville team loaded defensive-minded players and one of the strongest bluelines in the league, Suter still separates himself from the pack.
This year, Suter led all defencemen (70GP+) in Corsi Quality of Competition with a 2.069 rating. He also boasts an extremely respectful Relative Corsi QoC of 1.262. Looking at his other numbers it's easy to see that he significantly betters his team. His Relative Corsi is a positive 7.3. He takes a miniscule amount of penalties (0.5 per 60 minutes), although he doesn't draw too many (0.1 per 60 minutes). He starts in the offensive zone 45.7% of the time and finishes in it 47.0% of the time -- clearly a good thing. His PDO is above 1000 too, coming in at 1019 - which is pretty darn good.
All this being said, it is rather clear that he is a very, very good hockey player. The question is: where will he sign and for how much? Let's tackle the "how much" bit first, shall we? Personally, I feel that Suter is worth 6 to 6.5 million per year -- feel free to disagree with me. There's only a handful of teams at the moment that have the cap space and are willing to dish out that kind of cash for one player. I see Detroit as the front runner as they have the allure of success, a hockey market and the cap space, on top of the fact that Stuart and Lidstrom most likely won't be returning next year.
The question we all want to know: What about Ottawa?
While the Senators have the cap space to sign Suter, I doubt he'll be a Senator come fall. Here's why.
Otttawa's perspective: Bryan Murray will already have to break the bank on Erik Karlsson, so bringing in another expensive blueliner is unlikely. Melnyk recently said that Ottawa can't afford to be a cap-ceiling team at the moment, so that even further dispels the notion of #20 suiting up for Canada's capital. Keeping in mind that this is a rebuild, Ottawa will need cap space down the road to resign it's prospects that
may will undoubtedly be great players, so tying up 6 million in one player is probably not the smartest idea.
Suter's perspective: If Suter is leaving Nashville, it's because he wants to be on a competitive team -- he wants a cup. While Ottawa will be a legitimate contender a few years down the road, they are not cup favourites any time in the immediate future. Going back to what I said about needing the cap space later, it would be nice if Suter signed for a few years so we could re-evaluate the situation when it comes time to resign everyone. That being said, I don't think that Suter is too interested in being a rental player, albeit a rental player on a bubble team. He has a wife and child to take care of and I doubt he wants to be a journeyman quite yet.
What do you guys think?