New can-do approach did not pay off as Preds hoped

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 10:38pm

It was a chicken-and-egg scenario.

The Nashville Predators wanted to hang on to defenseman Ryan Suter and to sign free agent forward Zach Parise. They couldn’t attract Parise’s interest, though, because Suter was not signed. They ultimately lost Suter because he wanted to play with Parise.

In other words, they ended up with neither the chicken nor the egg and their plans were scrambled.

“I had reached out to Zach Parise and his agents about his interest in Nashville,” general manager David Poile said Wednesday. “… Zach would have been more interested in Nashville if we’d already had Suter signed. I asked Ryan to connect with Parise.”

Ultimately, of course, Suter and Parise connected as members of the Minnesota Wild.

The two agreed to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts that provided an unprecedented amount of certainty to their relationship, which dates back to roughly a decade ago. Previously, they played together for one season in the U.S. National Team Developmental Program and on numerous national teams, most recently the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team, which won the silver medal at Vancouver.

"I know how great of a player Ryan is," Parise said. " To have the opportunity to play with a guy of his caliber, this is a great opportunity.

"… Ryan and I talked about this: We like what they are doing here in Minnesota. We like the pieces. Our hope is that we can come in and help this team get to where we want to go.”

The Predators still have to figure out where they go next.

They have five defensemen who were on the team and at least in the rotation at the end of last season. Their organizational roster includes former first-round picks Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis, and they have Hal Gill, acquired in a trade last February, under contract for two years as a result of a deal struck two days before the start of free agency.

They also have a lot of money.

Even before Suter and Parise spurned them, the Predators had more money available under the current 2012-13 salary cap, which is subject to change pending the outcome of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, than any other NHL team. Currently they are roughly $15 million shy of the minimum teams are required to spend on salaries and a little more than $30 million away from the cap.

That means there are numerous options team officials can explore through trades or free agency between now and the start of the season.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s a little bit of a new challenge,” coach Barry Trotz said about Suter’s decision. “You never know. What we think is a setback today may open the door to something else.”

It is no secret they want to direct a significant chunk of that money — as soon as possible — to captain Shea Weber as part of a long-term deal. If Weber, currently a restricted free agent, declines a long-term offer he is in position to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Their plans for Weber, in fact, have not changed despite this week’s developments.

“Even though Suter went to Minnesota, we were trying to sign Suter, Weber and Parise,” Trotz said. “There was a big commitment organizationally. It was a real tough task trying to pull it off.

“I’ve been in the organization a long time and there used to be a lot of can’ts — ‘You can’t do this,’ ‘You can’t do that’ — because of our situation. Those are all eliminated.”

It wasn’t that they couldn’t. The just didn’t.

7 Comments on this post:

By: WickedTribe on 7/6/12 at 4:37

I think people are really taking this Suter situation out of proportion. It's pretty obvious that he and Parise chose to go to Minnesota because they can dominate the team for a decade. Suter has said within the past year that he wanted to be on a team where he was the "top d-man", strongly inferring that he doesn't want to be in Weber's shadow anymore (because Weber is way, way better than Suter no matter how good Suter is).

So the Preds lost Suter because Suter's too proud to be #2. That's the end of the story. In the long run, the Preds' can-do attitude will pay off. If they can't resign Weber, then that's a real problem. Suter wasn't/isn't.

By: teresa1963 on 7/6/12 at 5:59

Totally agree with you, WickedTribe.

By: Rasputin72 on 7/6/12 at 7:32

Minnesota was the right choice for a man of Norweigan descent with a wife who did not relate to Nashville, Tennessee. Minnesota was also the right choice for a man who has chosen ice hockey as his profession. There are probably more ice hockey fans in the Minneapolis area than there are in the entire state of Tennessee,Mississippi,Arkansas,Alabama and Louisiana,South Carolina and Kentucky combined.

A highly regarded ice hockey player needs a little adulation.

By: fan13 on 7/6/12 at 9:13

hattrick
Suter is gone. Weber remains, albeit temporarily. He,too, has given every indication that he's not re-signing. He too has a home far from Nsh. He, too, has friends on teams with explosive offense. He would have been a UFA if not for "team elected arbitration". He earns enough money so that MORE money won't significantly change his life style. His home is not far from Vancouver, a contending team with lots of big names and he wouldn't have to "carry" the responsibility alone with a target on his back. After financially securing their lives, hockey players like to play with players on an even talent level and have fun...not work and be punished. That's why good players attract other good players. Nsh has a serious shortage of that type of player. Poille needs to do what Ray Shero suggested..trade Weber NOW while he still has power. Otherwise, this Play...Act 2 same time next year. Weber has been refusing to sign for almost a yr and was forced to stay a yr longer. THAT clock is ticking David...It took Pekka longer than a week to decide to stay even with the huge amt of money.After one pays off, house,cars, IRA and banks a bit....money tends to diminish in value.Both Suter/Weber has historically expressed concerns about team talent and direction.
D men are very valuable this yr..trade Weber for a couple of good roster players and some prospects, not draft picks and move on.

By: sharko20 on 7/6/12 at 9:30

Weber will be gone. Money isn't the issue because these guys know their value and that a team will pay big bucks to get their services. Weber can choose his team. All 30 teams want Weber. My guess is it won't be the Predators.

He can get an offer sheet from other teams. Preds can match. With new CBA coming in Sept. experts are saying this is the last chance to get really long contract like Suter.

Apparently Suter was not totally honest about his desires. It's understandable during the season so as to not get traded and be away from wife and son. However, after the playoffs he should have come clean. Parise yesterday said they had been talking all season about where they could play together. He was never coming back. By not trading his rights for draft picks,etc. the Preds get a big fat nothing as Suter slams the door shut on this chapter of his career.

By: fan13 on 7/6/12 at 5:01

hattrick
There's a rumor out there that Weber has already been handed an offer sheet. His agent says he won't go to arbitration and Preds can't take him again after last year. Preds will have to match offer and pay a sum dictated by another team. All that buys is another yr to try to sign him before Act 2 next yr.
The real trade should be David Poille. He's responsible for this mess and now one of the Russians wants to go to arbitration.Well at least he's got goal tending locked up.!

By: Rasputin72 on 7/7/12 at 1:10

Hattrick........What mess are you talking about?