NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 23: Antoine Vermette #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets fights for the puck with Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on January 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter set fans buzzing on Twitter this afternoon with a statement echoed by multiple members of the media assembled in Ottawa for the All-Star Game:
Ryan Suter just said during his media availability that he doesn't think he'll sign before trade deadline... Feel it would be distraction.. But I would also say Suter sounded like a guy who loves it in Nashville and will give the Preds very much a fair chance before July 1
--- ESPN's Pierre LeBrun
Simply put, the notion that signing a contract extension now would be a "distraction" is absurd. Instead, we've got a pretty large distraction which won't go away any time soon.
Instead, we have Suter breaking this bit of news on a day with pretty much nothing else going on, in front of hockey reporters from all across North America. He could have said this last week, or last month to one of the local reporters. Instead, he does it in a setting which screams "showcase" (and let's be clear, I don't blame Suter one bit - he's worked his way into a dream scenario).
For general manager David Poile, the clock is ticking. Does he hold on to Suter and continue to hope that he'll agree to an extension before July 1, risking the loss of an All-Star defenseman for nothing in return? That's the direction his public statements have leaned toward most recently, presumably fueled by the team's 18-5-0 record of late.
The alternative would be to open the bidding and trade Suter to a contender over the next several weeks, extracting as much as possible in prospects and picks to keep the team on a long-term upward path. Recall Poile's words to Josh Cooper from January 9:
"Our first and foremost goal is to sign Ryan. We've been trying to do that all season long. I've not accomplished that to this point, but we're hoping to continue discussions and get that done at some point. We'll be prepared, if we feel that we weren't going to be able to sign Ryan, and if we thought we were in a position that we had to or should trade him. I'm certainly hoping that doesn't happen, I don't want that to happen, but I want to be prepared for that."
Based on what Suter is saying today, does that make you more or less confident that he'll re-sign with Nashville? Recall that Suter's statement comes just 2 days after all this discussion of the Preds "stepping up their efforts" to get Ryan signed. If Poile waits until after the season to come to a "no" decision on this point, anything he'll get back in trade will be paltry compared to what he could land in the next few weeks.
It's a tremendous gamble, and not one any of us would want to be in the position to make. Ponder that while surfing through your afternoon notes...
UPDATE: For more on the Ryan Suter situation, listen in as Craig Custance joined The Sports Revolution on 102.5 The Game this afternoon:
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