Ryan Suter spoke with the media on Wednesday, talking with the mass hordes of reporters during locker clean-outs for the season before heading into a long summer full of questions about his near-immediate future.
While his quotes remain cryptic, at best, speculation is abound by pundits in the US and Canada alike as to where the top defenseman will end up next. However, through the conversations with both Suter and Poile over the past 48 hours, there really only is one question right now:
Did Suter’s comments leak what his decision may be in the next few weeks?
Let’s start by looking into the full array of quotes from Suter:
“Wherever I sign I want to be there for the rest of my career, and that affects my family, my wife, my kid, if we have more kids. Everything plays into it.”
“We talked about everything and the future, and how everything will go, and I think we’re going to meet again in a couple of weeks and kind of make a decision”
“Your emotions are so high throughout the year, and you try not to have any distractions. You’re so focused and now that the year is over you want to get away from everything and wind down.”
So, in all three of those quotes, the only common denominator is that at THIS CURRENT MOMENT, nearly 72 hours after Nashville’s disappointing Game 5 loss to Phoenix, Ryan Suter is still processing the sting of defeat in the second round for the second straight season, in what was the best chance for the Predators, so far, to go deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What else would you expect? One of the top defensemen in the entire world has just been asked about what he wants to do about his expiring contract after being eliminated following a grueling 92 game season (82 regular games and 10 post-season games), through all the up’s and down’s, battling through the injuries that none of us will ever know about. Granted, Suter deflected the question a few months ago saying he didn’t want the situation to be a distraction to the team, yet the prying question (rightfully so) as soon as the season ended was what the future held for Suter.
Yet, still, the question remains? What else would you expect Suter to say? If you figured he was going to come straight out with a:
“Yes, I’ll be signing my contract with Nashville this week”
“No, I’m finishing my career somewhere else,”
Well, unfortunately that’s not what was given. Nothing is surprising about what he said, the only thing that makes me think he’ll stay in Nashville is he continual profuseness of love for the city of Nashville and how it’s a great place to raise a family.
What’s my personal opinion on it? I have a two-fold response to that. Wherever Ryan Suter goes, my gut feeling is Shea Weber follows. In a response to a question asked by 102.5 The Game’s Willy Daunic, David Poile gave the following quote: “I will be doing Suter and Weber’s contracts together, not independently.” So, when you say Weber can’t play without Suter (and vice-versa), just know in the back of your head you may be right.
Although, the aforementioned quote doesn’t really mean that Weber/Suter will stay everywhere together, if one of them signs with Nashville, the other will follow. All of this relies on what could possibly be going through the mind of Ryan Suter here in the next couple of weeks. I find it hard to believe that this could be IN ANY WAY related to money or how much he would get on the free agent market, Suter knows that he could easily get paid what he wants in Nashville.
Yet, as Suter has noted, he has to make the best decision for his family and the future of his family because he wants the place he signs with to be his, for lack of a better term, “Forever Home”. Right now, though, Suter is the metaphorical cork in a shaken bottle of champagne. So wait, what’s waiting behind the Suter decision you ask?
Ryan Suter is the tip of the iceberg, followed by fellow free agent (albeit a Restricted Free Agent) Shea Weber.
After that, you have Francis Bouillon and Hal Gill, two defensemen that Poile/Trotz are going to actively try and retain this summer via a report from Jim Diamond.
Finally? Kevin Klein and Roman Josi are already booked through next season.
This leaves a multitude of defensemen that are playing a waiting game with the Predators, including RFA’s Jack Hillen/Jon Blum/and Teemu Laakso, and active contract defensemen Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.
So what happens if Poile locks up Suter/Weber/Bouillon/Gill for at least next season, being a best case scenario? You’d have to imagine that SOMEONE is going to be traded away.
David Poile noted that he is going to do anything and everything he can to get back into the first round of the draft next month. To do so, I’d expect a defenseman to make it happen. Whether it’s Suter deciding not to return and Poile trading his rights away to the highest bidder, or if Poile packages the rights for some of his current RFA’s in Hillen/Blum/Laakso together, or maybe Ryan Ellis is traded in what could ONLY be a massive return for the services of such a blue-chip defender.
Either way, nothing is going to be decided right now or in the next couple of weeks. Try not to speculate on what’s going to happen, it’s only going to give you a headache until the final decisions are made.