Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 4/23/12
If the Nashville Predators spent the last 13 seasons chasing the Detroit Red Wings which they did what does it mean now that they have finally caught them? More specifically, what does it mean to their efforts to try and re-sign All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter and what does the series victory mean to Suter? In exactly two months and one week Suter will hit the open market if the Preds have not re-signed him. With Nashville awaiting its opponent in the Western Conference Quarterfinals either Chicago or Phoenix after eliminating the Red Wings in five games, Suter ranks seventh in the playoffs in average time on ice per game at 27:42 and was a huge part of that effort. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock referred to him as one of the Preds' three "franchise" players, along with fellow All-Star defenseman Shea Weber and goalie Pekka Rinne, after the final game. It seems that the central conversation to the contract negotiation with Suter has not been dollars and cents but more a question about the team's ability to compete at the highest level. "We have a lot of good players in our room," Suter told ESPN.com at the All-Star Game in Ottawa. "Not saying you gotta go out and get a big-name guy -- just the right piece. "I want to help our team win the Stanley Cup and being in a place that we can go get more players and the pieces we need to help us win." In the ensuing weeks after those comments, Nashville did exactly that. On the final day before the trading deadline expired, the Preds picked up wing Andrei Kostitsyn and checking center Paul Gaustad, who won 55.2 percent of his faceoffs in the first round against Detroit. Kostitsyn tied for fifth on the team with two points in the very low-scoring series and, significantly, finished plus-2. Nashville's depth was such that the Preds were able to win without defenseman Hal Gill, arguably their most important pre-deadline pick-up, as a lower-body injury sidelined Gill. And, of course, wing Alex Radulov, whom the team finally persuaded to rejoin it after four seasons in the KHL, led the series in points with five. His plusminus rating of plus-5 also ranks among the best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs right now. The trick, however, is that those four players all are, like Suter, pending free agents. Gill, Gaustad and Kostitsyn are unrestricted while Radulov is restricted. (Weber also is restricted, but, unlike Radulov, he would not appear a threat to play in the Russia next season if he and the Preds cannot agree to a long-term deal.) Predators general manager David Poile acknowledged on Monday that much of the future hinges on which free agents the team can re-sign. "I really like our team," he said in a conversation discussing team-building, generally. "I think we could have a four- or five-year plan, but that will change based on who signs and doesn't sign." Right now, it's hard not to like the Preds' team. After Detroit was eliminated on Friday, Babcock discussed how Nashville was deeper and despite the fact that three of the Preds' four wins came by one goal, Babcock expressed his opinion that the series was "not close." Considering that Detroit has a much higher payroll than Nashville, that's significant. Asked what he would have thought if he were told before the series that the Preds would win in five games, Suter expressed confidence in his team. "Well, I mean, we've got a good group of guys here," he said. It remains early in the playoffs, but things are looking up for the Preds. With the exception of St. Louis, they finished with more points than all of the teams remaining in the West. While the Blues won the Central Division, in head-to-head competition, the Preds went 4-1-1 against the Blues. If the Preds win the next round, will that satisfy Suter? If they advance to the Stanley Cup final? Or is it more about long-term success? Poile pointed out that Nashville has made the playoffs seven of eight seasons now. Other than Detroit and New Jersey combined winners of the Cup seven times starting in 1995 few other franchises can match that record. When Suter spoke at the All-Star Game, his comments were mostly about how he did not want to re-sign until after the season had ended. "We've never had a timeline or deadline," he said. "We're just focusing on winning. Everything else will take care of itself." For the second straight season, Nashville has advanced to the second round, so the Preds are indeed winning. The question regarding Suter is whether it's enough yet.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

Report: Marshawn Lynch told friends he is retiring

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker