Many things have been noted across the Predators blogosphere, especially in the comments section about Ryan Suter…lack of heart…mailing it in…not living up to expectations…etc. Is it true? Some would say his play over the last month or so has warranted this kind of dissonance and ire. I have even posted some of my own begrudging, usually after Suter was caught out of position blatantly and the Predators happened to lose that game which in turn takes me out of a lucid mindset into something of a rage-filled, sputtering mouth-breather with nothing to vent upon but the players (Klein, Bouillon, Suter) that caused the elevated blood-pressure and the changing of channels in the third stanza. But alas, after quiet contemplation and logical reasoning, it is not the goat’s fault for a team’s loss…it’s on the TEAM.
Frustration abounds when people start to talk about Ryan Suter and the inability of re-signing him before the beginning of the season…before the trade deadline and so on. Suter has deflected countless attempts to break his facade and allow a peek into his mindset. He has answered with the usual prescribed response of “we are going forward and focusing on this season” and the always topical “these things will take care of themselves in the off-season.
The burden of these statements is the inconsistency as pointed out by many Predator followers. Suter has paraphrased as saying he is waiting for the Predators organzation to show a commitment to winning. Answer? Poile signs Pekka Rinne to a 7 year extension and as far as regular season success, the Nashville Predators have been to 6 out of the last 7 playoffs lead by 499 wins coach Barry Trotz.
Suter has also stated that he would like the Predators and management to show signs of wanting to win a Stanley Cup. Answer? Poile goes out before the trade deadline and acquires Hal Gill, a 6’7 sasquatch of a defender to help out on the bottom two defensive pairings. He later adds Andrei Kostitsyn, the shooting equivalent of his set-up winger brother Sergei Kostitsyn. Then in the zero hour of trade day, Poile added a gritty face-of specialist with size and skill in Paul Gaustad.
Still no signs of Suter looking to sign long term with all the parameters for him to stay satisfied. Then the real shocker, the re-acquisition of Alexander Radulov. Radulov stayed in touch with the two Predator leaders, Weber and Suter, and with Radulov entering the fold it seemed the logical piece to a deep playoff run was finally in place. But once again, Suter displayed lackluster oratory skills as he stated that having Radulov back doesn’t sway his decision either way about staying or leaving Nashville.
What to do?
The perceived insult to injury has been the recent play of Ryan Suter. A cause for concern going into the playoffs, Suter has been kept off the scoreboard for the last five games but is a +2 in those five. This is not as staggering as many would think. Suter had two stretches earlier in the year where he went 6 games each without registering a point. The other games, however tell a different story.
In 74 games, the most of any Predator this season, Suter is only two points away from tying his career best point total from the 08-09 season. He is 2 assists from tying his season high from the same year and one goal from tying his career best from 06-07. Maybe what has been discouraging to most is that the rest of the Predators are playing that much better than in previous seasons. Suter is being overshadowed by Erat who is still on-pace to breaking his career best point totals. Hornqvist is starting to heat up and put goals in at a frequent level harking back to his 30 goal season in 09-10. Even Kevin Klein has been playing much better this season and is about to set his career best in points in 20 less games than before. While everyone else seems to be playing at 110-120% their potential, Suter’s typical 100% is getting lost in the shuffle.
It is fathomable that many are fed up with the fence-riding that Suter and his agent have kept throughout the year on his remaining contract. It is perfectly reasonable that Suter may be looking for greener pastures, a huge paycheck and finally stepping out of the shadows of one of the league’s elite and more recognized defenseman in Shea Weber. These instances are not a fault of Ryan Suter. He is a high-class puck moving defenseman that many teams would covet and Suter knows this. If anything, his performance on the ice this year is a testament to his sustainability, resilience and preparedness; and also a showcase to would-be suitors or to drive his value up for negotiations with the Predators higher-ups.
As always, in the end, it’ll be up to Suter on where his loyalties lie. The speculation may fly about his whereabouts at season’s end or on draft day, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that he will play to the utmost of his ability for the Predators while he is wearing the Gold and Blue. He very much wants his name on a Cup, and it would be nice if Nashville was the team that helped him accomplish this feat.