Boclair: Suter vs. Radulov

Monday, April 16, 2012 at 10:05pm

You’re Tom Cigarran. You and your posse (aka the Nashville Predators ownership group) have made it clear that you have money and you’re not afraid to spend it. More important, you actually want to spend it.

There is a limit, though. It’s called the salary cap, and it means that sometimes you have to make choices.

What if this summer you have to decide between signing defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Alexander Radulov? You can’t have both.

It’s a dilemma that might be all too real for the Predators, who currently are in the NHL playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons.

After all, both men are at the end of contracts. Both have options beyond Nashville — Suter can be an unrestricted free agent and sign with anyone he wants; Radulov, whose NHL rights will still belong to Nashville, can go back to Russia. So neither one will come cheap.

With a megadeal already signed by goalie Pekka Rinne, the need to keep a big chunk of cash in reserve for an offer to captain Shea Weber, and the fact that the rest of the roster can’t be ignored completely, means there’s only so much left for superstars like Suter and Radulov.

It’s entirely possible there’s not enough to keep both of them. So what do you do?

Suter is a great player who does a lot of little things that go unnoticed. He’s almost always in the right spot, which means he rarely has to do something dramatic to get the job done. He makes his teammates better. He keeps the opposition from putting goals on the board and chips in points where he can.

Radulov scores goals. Or creates goals. Or is at least a threat to produce a goal pretty much every time he’s on the ice.

Therein lies the rub.

One of the things Cigarran and Co. must do consistently in order to bring in the money they are so willing to spend is sell tickets. Nothing sells tickets like goals. And Nashville has never had someone with the potential to sell as many tickets as Radulov.

Think about it in terms of visiting players. Are people more likely to come out and watch Alexander Ovechkin or Zdeno Chara? Evgeni Malkin or Nicklas Lidstrom? Steve Stamkos or Dan Girardi?

People acknowledge the greatness of certain defensemen. They want to witness offensive wizards whenever possible. Just imagine what it would do to ticket sales, which already are pretty darn good, to have one of those guys playing for the team for all 41 home games in a season.

In fairness, neither Suter nor Radulov has gone out of his way to endear himself to the owners.

Pretty much all season, Suter had the opportunity to commit to the franchise for the long-term and sign a new deal. He didn’t.

Radulov walked out on an existing contract with the team and stayed gone for four years. Once he decided to make good, he took the easy way out rather than return for an entire season.

Still, in the big picture, each is worth a long-term investment of a significant dollar amount. They are the type of talent that doesn’t come along often, so you want to keep them around for as long as you can.

Not surprisingly, general manager David Poile has said he intends to do whatever is possible to keep Suter. Then again, he has said the same thing about Radulov.

Sounds good. But maybe the numbers don’t allow for both. You have to pick one.

Who’s worth more? The guy whose value is difficult to quantify or the one who not only puts people in the seats but also keeps them on the edge of those seats at all times?    

5 Comments on this post:

By: My_house_is_my_... on 4/17/12 at 7:04

How can we NOT fit Suter, Radulov, Weber & Rinne under the salary cap?? Especially when you look around at teams like Detroit with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Bertuzzi? Or Pittsburgh with Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Letang? Or Chicago with Hossa, Kane, Sharp, Toews? That doesn't make sense even with our depth.

By: conservarage on 4/17/12 at 7:49

Suter will be gone next year - look in his eyes - it seems like he's already checked out. his play seems to be lacking lately anyway.

Rads may or may not be here - if he stays in the NHL he probably will be.

By: News4free on 4/17/12 at 12:29

You make an offer on what their current level of play projects over the future contract length. Suter is at the top of his game and career - which is tough timing for the Preds. So its a question if he likes being under the radar in Nashville - or wants to go somewhere else - where he will likely be more visible. Same goes for Radulov, except, you don't have to bid against the KHL. He is either going to the KHL or not. I've never seen a "confirmed" salary that he made for the past four seasons, but it seems like a KHL team would out bid Nashville no matter what Nashville comes up with. So, I don't think Nashville wins with $$. His production thru the play-offs will be significant in what Nashville should offer, cause he only has that plus 9 regular season games to judge him on. But, he is a much more polished and dangerous player than when we last saw him 5 seasons ago.
As much as I would like to see both stay and play for Nashville, there is always a "top" guy or two who moves on, and this year with 27 players on the current roster - AT LEAST 4 of them will not be on the Preds roster next Sept (roster limit is 23).

By: Lorenzo on 4/17/12 at 12:33

As a fan I am growing a little tired of this, it's all about me, drama. As for the media, find something else to fill your columns until the season has completed, quit distracting me because for now it's all about the playoffs.

By: predswilrule on 4/18/12 at 1:54

radulov- and it aint even close. doesnt mean i would ignore suter, but if he wanted to be here he would be signed already, imo. i wont believe rads is interested til he signs, but i target him 1st. we have no one else w/ his skill set. if we miss on both then i started after ufas like parise or a draft day deal. i would even trade suters and arads rights at the draft if it was obvious they arent signing. not sure what they bring, but you could get something from a team that thought they could entice a signing before anyone else gets a crack at them.