The Red Wings were only able to pursue Suter after the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t make him a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. That inaction ensured the 25-year-old rookie could hit the open market on Wednesday as a free agent, and though there was reportedly a lot of interest, Detroit won out. The deal has an annual average salary cap hit of $3.25 million.
Related: 2021 Free Agency Tracker
Suter finished 11th in Calder Memorial Trophy voting this past season, which is awarded to the league’s top rookie.
Strong Middle-Six Forward With Potentially High Ceiling
Suter had a stellar rookie season and was a big reason a depleted Chicago roster remained competitive throughout much of the season, finishing fourth on the team with 27 points in 55 games. He’s a balanced scorer, recording 14 goals and 13 assists while averaging over 16 minutes of ice time per game, and his point share of 2.6 was sixth-best in the Windy City.
Suter’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, either. The 5-foot-11-inch, 175 pound Swiss forward was sixth on the Blackhawks in both blocked shots (34) and takeaways (27), though his 19 giveaways were 10th-worst on the team.
Suter also needs to polish his faceoff ability, as he won just 42.6 percent of them last season. Nearly 60 percent of those draws originated in the offensive zone, a place the goal-starved Red Wings desperately need to win more often than not.
Fit With the Red Wings
The deal is mutually beneficial, and Suter fits in well with what GM Steve Yzerman has been doing over the past few seasons. Suter excelled with the Blackhawks last season, and the Red Wings, who have been at the bottom of the league in scoring for years now, need exactly that type of player.
This contract ensures they’re getting a solid middle-six forward who, if the circumstances are right, could grow with an emerging core during a lengthy rebuild. Suter is a winner, having won an OHL championship in 2013-14, a Swiss Cup in 2015-16, and a National League (NL) championship in 2017-18. He was named the NL Media Most Valuable Player in 2019-20.
Suter, meanwhile, receives a significant raise from his entry-level deal in Chicago, and has the ability to prove himself in the coming seasons. Any offensive output that resembles his rookie campaign would be considered a success, and seeing as how Suter was somewhat of a hot commodity on the market, this looks like a solid addition to Detroit’s lineup.
Time will tell, but if this deal resonates within the organization for seasons to come, the Red Wings will have an old, bitter rival to thank.
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.