Written by WJWhite30
While the Minnesota Wild buying out Zach Parise was not a shocker, it was quite surprising to see Ryan Suter get bought out as well. Suter, while not the Norris finalist defenseman he once was, still played a pivotal role on the Wild’s backend last season. In my opinion, he is a top 4 defenseman in this league; however, I do understand he was a bit overpaid for his production.
While I do not think that Suter is the 26-29 minute per game player he was earlier in his career, I think he is still capable of providing a solid 17-20 minutes and being a veteran leader in any locker room.
Also, because he is being paid roughly $6.7 million a year for the next 8 years by Minny, I do not think he will be worried about the money. I think Suter (and potentially Parise) will take a very team friendly contract to be on a team where he feels as though he could either get noticed and prove himself or have a shot to win. I imagine Suter would sign a deal around 1 year $1.5 or somewhere in that ballpark, kind of like what Shattenkirk did on the Lightning 2 seasons ago.
I also believe that the Panthers would be stupid to at least not explore the Suter option. While I know Suter is an older guy, he is still a damn good defenseman and could add some more physicality to the Panthers backend. Could you imagine if you had Weegar, Suter, and Gudas back there? Forwards would think twice about going to the front of the net or taking liberties in the corners.
Imagine a lineup sheet looking like this:
Pairing 1 – Weegar & Ekblad
Pairing 2 – Gudas & Forsling
Pairing 3 – Suter & Montour
All of these guys are north of 6 foot mark and weigh in over 185 lbs.
As Tampa and Montreal showed in the playoffs, you have to be big and you need to play physical to have success. Finesse is great for the regular season, but the postseason is built on grit and toughness. I think if you add a guy like Suter to the backend, a guy who is not afraid to muck it up, play physical, and still has a lot of game left, then the Panthers may make it past Tampa.
In summary, Suter is still a top 4 d-man in this league and definitely worth considering on July 28th when free agency opens up. Especially since he is being paid by another team and will take a favorable deal for one more kick at the can. Bill Zito, listen up, go after Ryan Suter!