“We’ve never had a timeline or deadline. We’re just focusing on winning. Everything else will take care of itself…I don’t see it being a benefit by hurrying up and trying to get something done. I’m a Nashville Predator until July. I will focus on making my team better.” – Ryan Suter (Jan. 27, 2012)
“Right now I am kind of disappointed about how tonight went and I haven’t really thought about [my future].” – Suter (May 7, 2012)
But he’ll have to think about it soon. It’s not long until he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent (July 1), and they’re already salivating at the thought of landing the star defenseman in Detroit.
No surprise there — the Red Wings have piles of cap space and Nicklas Lidstrom can’t play forever.
Oh, and considering Suter was born in Wisconsin, played for the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, and spent a season with the Badgers in Madison, it’s impossible not to wonder if he’d prefer living closer to home.
How much the Predators’ failure to advance past the second round will factor into his decision is unknown. Maybe he’s already made up his mind. But if he only wants to play where he can compete for a Stanley Cup, it probably didn’t help the club’s chances of convincing him to stay.
Nor can it be assumed a huge contract offer will sell the 27-year-old on signing long-term in Nashville. Wherever he signs, Suter will get paid.
Besides, who’s to say the Predators won’t be back to pinching pennies in a few years? Nashville’s ownership group showed the money to Pekka Rinne and let GM David Poile load up on contracts for a playoff run, but the Preds aren’t among the leaders in generating revenue, and probably won’t ever be.
We already mentioned Detroit as a potential landing spot, but it’s far from the only one.
The Flyers would undoubtedly make room for Suter, given Chris Pronger might never play again and Kimmo Timonen just turned 37.
The Bruins would love to have Suter quarterbacking their troublesome power play. If they have to ship out a guy like Dennis Seidenberg, so be it.
It’s not often all-star defensemen hit the open market, especially at 27 years old. Where Suter plays next season is up to him, and unfortunately for Preds fans, there’s good reason to believe it’ll be somewhere other than Nashville.
Not that all hope is lost.
“You look around at some of the players that maybe have unrestricted free agency,” Poile said today, as per The Tennessean. (There are) some players that may not want to come back, and we may not want them. But having said that, I hope the core wants to stay here and that we can retain them because we have a core that can compete with anybody.”