In the weeks leading up to the new season, we'll preview the Nashville Predators on a player-by-player basis, examining their role on the squad and expectations relative to capabilities. So come along for the ride as we look ahead to 2010-11, from Andersson to Wilson. Next up: Ryan Suter.
One of the most under-appreciated players on the roster, Ryan Suter enjoyed another stellar campaign in 2009-10. It's easy to forget that this is a guy who was drafted ahead of Shea Weber in the 2003 NHL Draft, but the Predators' new captain would not be the player he is today without his Suter, his defensive partner.
It'll be interesting to see how much Ryan progresses in the upcoming season. As good as he is, you get the feeling that he has more to offer as the Predators' number 2 defenseman. We'll take a look at what the United States Olympian's 2010-11 might hold after the jump.
#20 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Jan 21, 1985
Top pair, all-around defenseman. In all likelihood, there's little about Suter's role that will change from last year. Barring something unforeseen, he'll anchor the top defensive pair with Weber, play on the number one power play unit, and chip in on the penalty kill. Despite Weber's flair for the flashy and dramatic, Suter is probably the more well-rounded player.
Nashville needs Ryan to step up his offensive game. Yes, he was second on the team in assists last year, but he fired fewer shots on net than in the previous two seasons (125) and his power play performance left a bit to be desired. Dan Hamhuis' departure could find Suter with more shutdown duties than usual, and if the Olympics proved anything, that should be no problem.
Ryan enters the 3rd year of a 4 year, $14,000,000 deal. He'll receive $3,500,000 in each of the next two years before he hits unrestricted free agency. Like Weber, Suter will be due a significant raise, as elite defensemen do not grow on trees. Despite the Predators having great blueline prospects in abundance, Suter should be considered a franchise cornerstone.
The Wisconsin native scored 4 goals in 2009-10, along with 33 assists. Suter played in all 82 games for the third time in five seasons, and played to a +4 with 48 penalty minutes.
Besides helping lead Team USA to a silver medal (where he drew rave reviews for soaking up huge amounts of ice time), Suter's most memorable NHL moment from the past season was scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Red Wings, which clinched the Predators' playoff spot. Check out our season review for more.
Steady. That's the word that best describes Ryan Suter, and an adjective which will no doubt suit him once again. While other defensemen (even Weber) go through hot and cold stretches, Suter provides the same elite-level play every night. It doesn't come through in his statistics, is rarely flashy; but clearly effective. Look for more of the same from Suter in 2010-11, something around 5 goals and 37 assists.
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