Independence Day is a time for celebrating the United States with BBQ and family. Nashville’s prized unrestricted free agent, Ryan Suter, made a statement of just how important family is when he announced that he had signed a 13-year deal with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Suter said goodbye to the Predators after 9 years in the organization.
Nashville’s General Manager David Poile sounded frustrated and angry when he spoke to the media shortly after the announcement was officially made.
“I was looking at all my notes yesterday. Ryan said, when I had a meeting with him in November, he said I’m not going anymore, he is signing with the Nashville Predators. It’s a quote,” Poile said.
It is a familiar feeling for Predators fans to lose talent to the free market. In the past, Nashville let go of players like Scott Hartnell and Dan Hamhuis because the organization was unable to pay what other teams were willing to shell out for their services. But this year was different.
According to The Tennessean, Nashville had the money and offered Suter a 13-year, $90 million contract. He signed with the Wild for $98 million. Poile was told that Suter was leaving for family reasons.
“I can’t argue with that. The disappointing part is that that isn’t what we talked about all year long. I met Ryan’s criteria,” Poile said.
Suter talked about playing for a team that was competitive and could win the Stanley Cup. Poile went all-in to make sure that the Predators were in a position to do just that.
Poile didn’t trade Suter’s rights before the draft because he was “staying loyal” to the All-Star defenseman. Poile believed that because he had done everything Suter had asked, he would lock-up the Wisconsin native to a long-term deal.
Why shouldn’t he have thought that? After all, Poile traded Blake Geoffrion to secure veteran defenseman Hal Gill. Nashville gave up their first round draft pick to get a face-off specialist in Paul Gaustad. Poile brought in the services of Andrei Kostitsyn and allowed Alexander Radulov to burn the final year of his contract with the Predators for added scoring potential – all to show Suter that the Predators were committed to winning.
After meeting so many times, Poile says somewhere in between 20 and 40 such occasions, it seems reasonable for a general manager to think a pending unrestricted free agent might mention that location mattered.
Nashville was not given the opportunity by Suter to make a counter offer. Suter’s mind was made up when he notified the Predators of his decision.
Now, Poile must turn his attention to replacing Suter and getting Captain Shea Weber signed to a long-term deal.
It is possible, however, that Weber is not going to sign long-term with the Predators. After seeing the money thrown at Suter, Weber knows he will be in for a similar, if not bigger, payday.
When asked about Weber, Poile said he knows Weber likes Nashville and Weber knows that Poile wants to retain his services… but Poile said the same thing about Suter, too.
Poile admits that signing Weber long term would have been easier had Suter agreed to a deal. If Weber is not locked in long term by the end of the summer, trading the two-time Norris finalist may be Poile’s only option moving forward. If Weber only signed on for one year, the Predators could lose another talent and get nothing in return.
After Jordin Tootoo turned down a deal from the Predators and signed with Detroit, and now with Suter leaving, it could be a very bumpy summer for Predators fans. All eyes now turn to Weber.
But Poile believes in the process.
“It’s a team sport, and we will find a way.”