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Instant Analysis: The Suter Decision

Wednesday, 07.4.2012 / 12:48 PM CT / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Instant Analysis: The Suter Decision

Today’s decision by Ryan Suter hurts. There’s no sugar coating that.

David Poile and Barry Trotz clearly wanted Suter back in the fold with the organization; that much was clear the way they spoke about Suter the past few days. But in the same breath they spoke about back-up plans in case Suter’s decision didn’t go the way the Preds wanted.

All season the Preds tried to accommodate Suter’s requests. Suter stated he enjoyed the Nashville area, enjoyed playing for Coach Trotz, enjoyed what the Preds had to offer; his main concern was whether the organization would pull the trigger on moves to make the team a Stanley Cup frontrunner. To that end Nashville was the most active team at this year’s Trade Deadline, mortgaging future assets for pieces to help with the 2012 Playoffs. Nashville aggressively moved to re-sign Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad before free agency started. Had Suter decided to stay, the Preds likely would have become the prohibitive favorite to win the Central Division in 2012-13.

Because of everything the organization did to try to accommodate Suter’s requests --- and then to still lose Suter in the end --- it hurts.

Before we rush to judge Suter’s decision not re-sign with Nashville and what it means for the Preds we need to see how the back-up plan plays out.

It’s tough to be patient. Especially this time of year. There are no games being played right now, so free agent signings and speculations are all we have to talk about. But “winning” or “losing” the off-ice battles in July doesn’t necessarily equate to success or failure on the ice in October, November, March, April, etc.

While it stings right now the process with Suter made one thing very clear, the Preds do have money to spend this summer. By all accounts Suter’s decision came down to family and geography, not money. Suter himself told the Preds it wasn’t about money. That financial flexibility gives Poile and the Preds several options remaining.

The Preds will add another top defenseman before the start of the season, be it through free agency or trade. There are some interesting options on both fronts potentially available to the Preds. And any of those options will likely allow the Preds more flexibility to pursue scoring options at forward.

And because of the organization’s impressive young depth on defense means there are ample candidates to benefit from added responsibilities. On first glance, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis appear main beneficiaries. Josi was as good as any rookie defenseman in the league over the second half of last season; his game is very similar to Suter’s and his on-ice performance matches up well with what Suter produced early in his career. Ellis is as decorated a defenseman to come out of the Canadian Junior system in a generation. His first pro season – split between the AHL and NHL – was impressive and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the lessons he learned last season allows him to emerge as a dangerous offensive defenseman in ’12-13.

At the same time, the decision by Suter has no bearing on the team’s commitment to Shea Weber. David Poile talked Sunday evening about the team’s position with Weber and his pending contract. The Preds have kept Weber in the loop about Suter’s situation, so the line of communication has already been open between the two parties.

With Weber and Rinne in fold, plus the offensive balance already locked up – Nashville has 13 forwards under contract for next season, a very similar, if not more impressive, group up front that ranked eighth in the NHL in goals scored last season – the Preds, on paper, appear poised in 2012-13 to match up very similarly to Nashville’s 104-point campaign last season … especially once Poile and crew add their replacement on defense and the roster picture becomes more complete.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 7 2 3 -2 5
C. Wilson 7 2 3 2 5
J. Neal 7 2 1 0 3
R. Johansen 7 1 2 1 3
F. Forsberg 7 1 2 -2 3
R. Josi 7 0 3 -1 3
M. Ekholm 7 2 0 1 2
C. Smith 5 1 1 3 2
R. Ellis 7 0 2 1 2
M. Salomaki 7 1 0 1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 4 3 0 .915 2.45