The General Manager of the Nashville Predators David Poile has some big decisions to make regarding his two top defenders; Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Weber will become a restricted free agent on July 1, while Suter becomes an unrestricted free agent. Can Poile resign both players?
At the NHL All-Star media day Friday, both players discussed where they were at in regards to their contract
negotiations. While I was in conversation with TSN’s Darren Dreger, fellow TSN analyst Pierre Lebrun shared some breaking news with us. He informed us that Ryan Suter announced he had decided that he was not going to sign a contract prior to the February 27 trade deadline, and that he was going to market July 1. The announcement of this decision really puts some pressure on Poile to decide if he wants to keep Suter as the Predators have a playoff position with a ten point cushion and may be able to have a long playoff run. Having Suter would be a key factor in their playoff chances. Or, does Poile really want to take the risk of allowing Suter to sign elsewhere and lose such an asset while receiving nothing in return.
Poile has expressed his desire and intention to keep both players, and is indicating that Nashville is prepared to pay the top dollars; something that the franchise historically has not done. Poile took the first step towards proving those intentions when he resigned starting goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year $49 million dollar contract.
Shea Weber has also made the decision to not have any contract talks or negotiations during the season. “I told David (Poile) I didn’t want to discuss during the season since January 1st came around. I dealt with a lot during the summer with and negotiations with arbitration, so put that on the back burner and just focus on winning.” He told me. Webber also commented on Suter’s decision saying “We talk a lot. It’s been weighing on him. David (Poile) has been trying to get a deal done, and (Suter) doesn’t want to deal with it and that’s why he came forward and said that, and now he can move on.”
The trade speculation will continue to surround the Nashville situation over the course of the next few months. Who will stay, who will go, and who may be coming in. If Poile is serious about keeping both players and becoming a big spending team, perhaps the trade focus should be who will be added to the Predators line up. Players such as Ales Hemsky or Jeff Carter have recently been rumored to be available. By adding an impact player up front and having a successful playoff run, the Preds would show both Weber and Suter that Nashville is serious about winning and spending. A long playoff run would also provide the club with significant revenue to support lucrative contracts Weber and Suter will command.
It will be very interesting to follow this story line and see what Poile does as the decisions he is about to make will shape the Nashville franchise for years to come.