While the Edmonton Oilers might consider buying out the contract of Kailer Yamamoto this offseason, there’s another potential buyout candidate out of Dallas the Oilers might want to keep an eye on. Ryan Suter has been mentioned by a couple of insiders as a possible salary cap casualty and with the Stars having just been eliminated from the postseason, Suter’s name is bound to get mentioned a bit more often in the coming days and weeks.
For Ken Holland, this offseason will be about finding upgrades around the NHL, specifically ones that don’t break the bank. Suter didn’t necessarily have the greatest playoff performance of his life in 2023, but he does represent a golden opportunity for the Oilers to buy low and find a player who can still eat big minutes while providing veteran leadership.
If the Oilers are looking for cheap contracts with value (and they are), they could do a lot worse than a motivated Suter.
Why Would Ryan Suter Be a Buyout Option?
Should the Stars buy out Suter’s contract, they would be on the hook for two seasons at $733,333, followed by two seasons at $1,433,333. There will be a hole that the team will need to fill should Suter no longer be there, but the idea of moving on from a 38-year-old and going another direction might have some appeal to it.
Frank Seravalli writes, Suter’s four-year term in Dallas never really made sense given that he was 36 at the time. His game noticeably dropped in the playoffs, making him a liability for the Stars.” He adds that going the buyout route would save the Stars nearly $3 million per season and in the two seasons where his hit jumps up to just over $1.4 million, the salary cap will have also increased. It’s a marginal difference.
Meanwhile, Elliotte Friedman wonders if there’s a chance Dallas seriously considers this. He noted during his 32 Thoughts podcast on Wednesday, “If you take a look at his contract, to buy it out it’s not expensive. It’s four more years and it’s just under $800k for the first two years and about $1.5 million for the last two years. I wonder if they think about it.”
How Would Suter Benefit the Oilers?
Suter might fit on two levels. First, he fits financially. As Seravalli pointed out, “There is a heavy dose of recency bias here, but if it happens, Suter would become the first player in the NHL’s salary cap era to be bought out twice. The Wild are paying him $833,333 until 2029.” If he then gets paid by Dallas, next season, Suter would be making just over $1.5 million without lacing up a pair of skates.
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This is something the Oilers can use to their advantage of. Let’s say Suter wants one more chance at a Stanley Cup and he sees the Oilers as a team that can potentially offer him that. Signing him at $1 million for one year means he’s getting $2.5 million and that’s not bad considering his other job prospects. A slight pay decrease might be a more attractive option than trying to make the same money with a less competitive team as he did this past season.
Second, he might fit as an on-ice mentor and reliable depth option. This past season proved he can still play bigger minutes if required, and the Oilers aren’t afraid to invest in older players (see Duncan Keith). While Suter was never at Keith’s level, there was a time he was quite the defender and he could make for a good third-pairing option and a potential mentor for someone like Vincent Desharnais — or whoever potentially comes in on the right side, should Cody Ceci be moved to save money.
Suter is big, he’s feisty and he’s proven to have value. He’s not the kind of player you give more than a year to if you’re Holland, but considering Holland signed Ryan Murray last offseason, Suter would be a serious upgrade.