The kabuki dance that was the Ryan Suter free agency courtship has finally ended, as Suter has decided to join the Minnesota Wild and his good friend Zach Parise, signing a 13 year, $98 million dollar contract.
The fans of the Predators and of the potential Suters…uh…suitors of the prized defenseman expressed some degree of frustration over the time that Suter took to make his decision, but this was a decision that had many variables that had to be weighed.
One of the factors that Suter said was most important to him was location and being closer to family. Which is interesting, since that had never been discussed with Predators GM David Poile as a primary factor in Suter’s decision making process. If location and proximity to family were first among Suter’s priorities then one has to believe that Poile may have taken a different approach to dealing with Suter at the trade deadline.
The assertion by Suter that location/family were the key factor in his decision amounts to a blindside hit to Poile and the Predators.
Suter had indicated that the Predators would have an opportunity to give a last offer as a courtesy to the organization that drafted and developed him, but according to Poile, that was not the case.
The offer from the Predators was for 13 years and $90 million.
It remains a speculative point if the Predators would have upped their offer to match the one from the Wild.
They never got the chance.
“I would think disappointment would not adequately describe the word I would like to chose,” said Poile. “Disappointed and a little surprised based on all the conversations that we have had.”
Screwed is the word you are looking for, David.
Suter had positioned himself for a big payday and not for a moment do I fault him for cashing in. Every athlete at the professional level wants to get paid for the sweat, sacrifice, and effort they put forth. Rising to the pinnacle of their profession demands compensation commensurate with that effort.
Nothing wrong with that.
However, if location and a desire to be closer to family were THE critical variables in Suter’s decision, the the Predators were at a disadvantage from the word go. The money that the Predators would have to offer to overcome that disadvantage would have to be phenomenally greater than what the Wild could offer.
Again, it is just speculation as to whether the Predators would have done that.
What is certain, though, is that Poile would have managed the trade deadline differently if he had known that the Predators had to overcome this handicap.
That handicap was not known by Poile or the Predators as Suter did not indicate that it was a primary factor in his decision.
Poile said that Suter held all the cards as the free agency deadline approached. By trusting Suter to negotiate honestly with the Predators, Poile gave up all leverage and the cards in his hand by letting the trade deadline pass with no action.
If, as Suter has said, being near his family was paramount in his decision, then Suter ran a hell of a bluff on Poile.
We can all speculate about the nature of the conversations between Poile and Suter based on the snippets that have been released into the public domain. We can spend time guessing as to whether or not Suter really intended to come back with the Predators.
All of which are a fool’s errand.
What we know is that the Predators believed a player when he said that his team would have every opportunity to retain his services.There was risk in that belief and action, but the Predators had confidence that it would be reciprocated with legitimate negotiations by Suter.
It appears that confidence may have been- at least to a degree- misplaced.
So now Suter and the Predators move on.
And for the Predators, this experience will shape negotiations with future pending UFA’s, notably Shea Weber.
And Predator fans should expect something entirely different in this process.
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.