Nashville Predators general manager David Poile just gave about 29 NHL teams some promising news yesterday: defenseman Ryan Suter intends to test the free agent market.
In an article posted on Mlive.com in Michigan, Poile stated that he believes Suter will test the free agent market come July 1, although the team hasn’t abandoned hopes of signing their star defenseman.
“Unless something changes in the near future, he’s going to take a peek at July 1,” Poile was quoted as saying. “We’re going to be in consistent contact with him, and I’m certainly hoping, as he said to me a week ago, that he’s not going to make a sudden decision … and we’re going to have some conversations after he has talked to these different teams.”
Poile’s statement comes on the heels of news from CSNPhilly.com on Thursday, citing a source close to the situation, that Suter has a short list of teams he would be willing to negotiate or sign with, and all of those teams are in the Western Conference. It’s generally believed that the Detroit Red Wings would be his top choice and preferred destination – which is good news for the Red Wings who are widely believed to be incredibly interested in Suter to help ease the loss of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Staurt.
If Suter intends to test the free agent market, the Predators could opt to trade the negotiating rights to him to at least get something in return, which usually amounts to draft picks. But Poile indicated that Nashville may choose to hold onto Suter’s rights and risk losing him for nothing.
“We’ve never entertained any offers for him,” Poile said. “He has never said he doesn’t want to play for us. He just said he wants to take a look.”
Suter, 27, will be heavily pursued by numerous teams if he does in fact make it to July 1. The Philadelphia Flyers are rumored to be heavily interested, despite rumors that Suter does not want to play for an Eastern Conference team. The Edmonton Oilers may also make an attempt on Suter to help solidify their blue line and could use the budding young offense as an enticing selling point to bring Suter on board. The Red Wings remain the favorite to land Suter, however, with an abundant amount of cap space available and a willingness to spend to land talent this summer. Suter also played for the USA Hockey National Development Team in Ann Arbor, Mich., located about 30 minutes outside of Detroit.
Suter scored 46 points last season, including seven goals. He made $3.5 million last season, but could easily expect contract offers for between $6 and $7 million per season this summer.