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Time (and Leverage) Keeps on Slippin’…..


Photo by: Rob Grabowski, US Presswire

It is a slow plodding course that GM David Poile and soon to be UFA Ryan Suter have been navigating for the past year. Neither side seems to be flinching and the Draft is getting closer and closer by the day.

Poile has already made a deft move by sending goalie Anders Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for two 2nd round picks and a 3rd in next year’s draft. Added to this was the UFA Sebastien Caron, a goalie that could compete for the back-up job behind Pekka Rinne.

One of the key pieces, however, in Poile’s ability to throw the kind of money and contract to keep Ryan Suter is more than likely living out the famous (or infamous) Beatles song that sounds like a Beach Boys cut. Having Radulov here gave the Predators an elite level scorer at a fraction of the cost, but the prodigal son has yet again turned tail and run off to re-join the KHL. Poile is at fault as much as anybody for tipping his hand and announcing that the Predators were willing to trade Radulov’s rights before the draft.

Without him actually saying it, it is more than likely that Ryan Suter is going to test the free agent market come July 1st. This puts Poile in quite a bind and any kind of leverage that Poile had in the negotiations has dropped to almost zero. Suter, as he has for the entire season, has the organization and Poile in a tight spot. When it is assumed a player is going to hit the free agent market, it diminishes the return to trade that players negotiating rights to a team for picks or prospects. The other teams just have to wait and vie for his talents come July 1st. Poile has traded the rights to a player that was to become a UFA before and with success i.e. Dan Hamhuis. But someone like Suter and what he could bring to another team can get Poile a little more in return than the Hamhuis deal…that is until Suter’s camp wrneched that system with the on-going drama and stagnant talks with Poile. The closer the draft looms, the less time and ability the Nashville Predators have to either trade the rights to Suter or risk losing him for no return.

One thing is for certain, any of the other 29 NHL teams would love to have Ryan Suter on their blueline, especially the most hated rival of the Nashville Predators, the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings and a few other teams have the cap space to throw ridiculous money at Ryan Suter and have a history of winning traditions that Nashville hasn’t been around long enough in the league to garner. With Lidstrom retiring, Suter becomes a huge deal in filling the void left by the future Hall-of-Famer.

Poile has been talking to Suter and his agent for quite a while now and with neither side making any progress, it may be high time to go ahead and ship off Suter’s rights for a draft pick or two so Nashville can at the very least get something for him.

What’s that you say? The Predators have had players test out the market and re-sign with Nashville? True, but those players were the likes of Joel Ward, not an All-Star caliber defenseman that makes up half of arguably the best defensive tandem in the NHL.

In summation, if Suter “tests the waters of free agency,” it is more than likely he will sign with another team for a bit more money and what him and his agent might believe is a team that has a legitimate shot of going deeper in the playoffs than Nashville.

I’m putting the odds of Ryan Suter being with the Predators after July 1st at around 10%. I hope I’m wrong, but nothing the Ryan Suter camp and the Predators front office have given me more hope than that. It’s time to trade Ryan Suter’s rights before he hits the open market and the Predators lose one of their best home-grown talents for nothing.


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