Will Nashville Trade Suter?
With the 2012 NHL All-Star festivities in Ottawa finally over, teams are gearing up for the second half of the season. The crème of the crop is rising in both leagues, and with the February 27th trade deadline fast approaching, teams will soon assess whether they’ll be buyers or sellers. Some teams will reload for the grueling playoffs, and some teams will re-stock for the 2012-2013 season.
During the all-star festivities, Predator defenseman Ryan Suter felt like getting personal. Suter notified the hockey world on Fridays media day that he wouldn’t sign an extension until after the season. This remark was rather surprising. The timing of the announcement, to go along swirling trade rumors that have surrounded Nashville for a few months, have left Preds fans feeling a little uneasy lately.
Smashville fans shouldn’t panic just yet. Suter isn’t adamant about being traded, and had kind words about the city of Nashville when he spoke to the media on Friday. "Nashville is a great place to live and raise a family,” Suter said. A small hockey market, Nashville has been a respectable franchise in the last six years, qualifying for the playoffs five times.
Nashville may not have a choice, however, due to their financial limitations on spending. Suter, 26, is tough, talented, and young, and is expected to earn a pretty sizable contract. This could cost a team around $5 million per year (cap hit) depending on whom you ask, and what the market dictates.
Nevertheless, it’s going to be a big payday for Suter when free agency hits, and Nashville usually doesn’t give out big paydays. They dealt former stars Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen to Philadelphia in fear of not being able to resign them, and their 2011-2012 payroll of $49.8 million ranks them in the bottom five of the league. Over the last few seasons, they’ve remained in the bottom half of the league for team payroll.
Nashville’s ownership and GM David Poile will have to decide if that dubious trend will continue.
A high-caliber, young defenseman isn’t easy to find in the league, and if Suter jumps ship during free agency, that would be seen as a blow to the franchise.
To make matters more complicated for Nashville, trading Suter before the deadline would leave fans angry and puzzled if the team continues to compete in the West. The possibility of acquiring a top junior prospect, draft picks, or young NHL prospect (JVR, Flyers Fans?) before the trade deadline might be too juicy for Poile to pass up though.
As of now, if Nashville proves they can make a respectable run and push in the playoffs, it could convince Suter (and Shea Weber) to resign with the franchise, and could propel them to greatness in the next few years. Poile has proven that he’s willing to give out big contracts, signing goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million this past November.
In the past, homegrown talent leaving for free agency was out of Nashville’s control, but this year, they may be able to change that.