I don't have time for a full "notes" post today, but the read of the day is over at The Tennessean, where Josh Cooper highlights the opportunity facing Ryan Suter these days, while he leads the Predators in Shea Weber's absence. Josh writes that the team has been impressed with how he's handled things so far:
The Predators have noticed many positive signs in Suter since Weber's injury. They've seen an increase in focus, communication and a higher level of leadership. In three games since Weber's injury, Suter has a minus-1 rating, but that number is not an accurate reflection of his game. In his past two games - both shootout wins - Suter hasn't played less than 29 minutes.
If he hits free agency on July 1, Suter will be head & shoulders above the rest of the defensemen on the market, a situation which could lead to absolutely stupid money being thrown his way, and/or a choice of signing with any number of legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. With today's game on the NHL Network, Suter can make a case for himself in front of a large audience.
#20 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Jan 21, 1985
|2011 - Ryan Suter||38||5||19||24||8||26||3||1||1||79||6.3|
As I wrote 3 weeks ago, the onus is on Preds GM David Poile to make sure that Suter either gets signed long-term, or brings a king's ransom in return on the trade market (this season's NHL Trade Deadline comes on February 27). With each passing day, however, a re-signing looks less and less likely. The money, as stated repeatedly by Preds ownership, shouldn't be an issue, and instead the question is whether Suter wants to stay with the organization which drafted and developed him as an NHL star. Have the Predators taken any action over the last several months to convince him (or us, the fans) that they'll be a real threat to win the Cup in the short- or mid-term future?
Even the most optimistic of Preds fans would be hard-pressed to make that argument. This season has seen a youth movement among the forwards and defense, and the team remains near the bottom of the NHL's team payroll lists.
With today's Flames/Predators game the only one on the NHL schedule, you have to wonder how many general managers around the league are going to take time out of their day to tune in, while calculating not just what it might take to sign Suter to a new contract, but what the price might be for a trade over the next few weeks.