Instant Analysis: The Suter Decision

Wednesday, 07.04.2012 / 1:48 PM / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators

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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AWAY
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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