Tag:Ryan Suter
Posted on: January 30, 2012 6:31 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Report: Predators unlikely to trade Ryan Suter

Odds are Suter will stay with the Preds at least through this season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Drooling over your team's chances of getting their hands on Ryan Suter at the trade deadline? According to Frank Seravali of the Philadelphia Daily News you shouldn't get your hopes up.

There wasn't much actual news that came out of the All-Star weekend in Ottawa, but that doesn't mean there was none. Suter, the Nashville Predators star defensemen who is in line to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, caused a little bit of a ripple on media day when he said that he didn't want to sign an extension with the Preds before the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

The rationale, which didn't make much sense to me, is that he doesn't want it to be a distraction. I would think signing a new deal -- if that's indeed what he wants to do -- would eliminate the distractions, saying you won't sign before the deadline doesn't do much to quiet things down. Instead, people everywhere start clicking on Cap Geek's trade calculator to figure out how they can make it work.

But it might be a moot point. Sources told Servali that don't expect Preds GM David Poile to move Suter.

“The consensus among us is that Nashville will be hanging onto him, even if they know the odds are not in their favor of re-signing him,” one Eastern Conference GM told the Daily News on condition of anonymity. “If he does decide to trade him, [David] Poile has the market cornered. There are very few defensemen of Suter’s caliber in the league and Nashville has two of them.

“You have to wonder whether the Predators can continue to trade away their top players for prospects because they can’t afford to pay them.”

I've been on the limb all season long that I believe the Predators will re-sign all three free agents (Pekka Rinne already taken care of, Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent again) and I think Poile is still believing the same thing.

To answer one of the obvious questions here; why is this coming from Philadelphia? Well the Flyers have been one of the names mentioned with Suter for some time, particularly since Chris Pronger was shut down.

Adding to that intrigue, Suter was paired with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the All-Star Game and of course Timonen took the chance to talk to Suter a little bit about Philly.

“He’s going to take his time and see what’s going to happen,” Timonen said. “If he gets the money he wants, obviously he will stay there. You don’t know what’s going to happen, how much they’re going to spend, if they want to keep both of those two guys. He’s been there so long, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t want to stay there.”

The Predators don't historically spend a lot of money, that's why people don't think they'll keep all three. But the reverse side of that is it means they have a lot of money under the cap to spend. With the franchise at the highest level it has ever been at the moment, this is the time to spend the money.

The risk in it all obviously is seeing Suter walk for free. If he goes all the way to the free-agent period without a deal, he will get big-time bucks thrown his way as one of the biggest free agents in years.

That's why it's hard to envy Poile right now. His two star defensemen he needs to sign, Suter and Weber, need to see a team committed to winning. But what better way to do that than re-sign their two best players? It's a catch-22, so the best he can do at this point is take a chance on the team winning this season, and with how the Preds are playing, you like the odds they can make some noise.

The Nashville fans have already seen the team lose one stellar defenseman for nothing in return when Dan Hamhuis left a few seasons ago. Obviously they don't want to see that happen again. I don't think Poile wants it to happen again either, this would clearly signal he thinks they can sign Suter.

More from Eye on Hockey

Suter doesn't plan to sign before trade deadline
Trade Deadline coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 27, 2012 5:43 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 5:50 pm
 

Suter doesn't plan to sign before trade deadline

SuterBy: Adam Gretz

The most difficult job in the NHL leading up to the trade deadline has to belong to Nashville Predators general manager David Poile. He has to decide what to do with one of his franchise players, defenseman Ryan Suter, an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He can either hold on to him, make a serious playoff run and hope he can be re-signed before hitting the open market, or he can trade him to the highest bidder to guarantee that he isn't lost for nothing. Suter's words on Friday during his media availability probably didn't help things as he said he doesn't intend to sign a new long-term contract extension before the trade deadline, in part because he wants to see what the Predators do as an organization, and also because, as he put it, he doesn't want to be a "distraction," according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

This can't be encouraging news for Predators fans (of all ages).

It's unclear how actually signing a contract would be a distraction for the Predators (the contracts talks themselves might be a distraction. The rumors are a distraction, I imagine), but this is no small decision for Poile and the Predators front office.

Suter, along with his blueline partner Shea Weber, an unrestricted free agent himself after next season, is one of the Predators' top-two defensemen, and arguably their best all-around player. If he hits the open market after this season he's going to be the most sought after player available in an otherwise weak free agent class. Not only because he's a No. 1 defenseman and a franchise-type player, but also because he's still only 27 years old. Players that good, at that position, in the prime of their career, don't become available to the highest bidder all that often, and there's going to be no shortage of teams looking to throw large sums of money in his direction.

If the Predators were out of the playoff race this wouldn't be that difficult. If you're a bottom-feeder and confident that he isn't going to re-sign, you put him on the market and trade him for the biggest return you can get.

But that's not the case for Nashville. The Predators are very much in the playoff race, entering the All-Star break holding the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference with 64 points, just one point out of what would be home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.

Making any sort of a postseason push without Suter isn't likely (it certainly decreases their chances). But he's also too valuable of a player to risk losing for nothing, even though the Predators have some impressive blue line depth coming up through their organization (such as Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Jonathan Blum), as they always seem to do.

This Predators team has been built entirely around the trio of Suter, Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne. All three entered this season eligible to become unrestricted free agents over the next two years. The team already managed to lock up Rinne, signing him to a massive seven-year contract earlier this season, leaving Weber and Suter as unknowns.

Poile has been one of the NHL's better general managers during his run in Nashville, consistently putting a playoff caliber team on the ice with one of the league's lowest payrolls, mainly through a steady pipeline of talent through his minor league system. The same one that's produced players like Suter, Weber and Rinne.

This is going to be his biggest test (and decision) of his career.

Photo: Getty Images

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Predators sign Pekka Rinne for seven years
Toddler's message to Suter: please sign

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:39 pm
 

All-Star Game preview: Finding lines to entertain

By Brian Stubits

When it comes to All-Star Games, the NHL is probably in the middle. It's certainly a notch below the holy grail of games, baseball's Midsummer Classic, but it's undoubtedly ahead of football's Pro Bowl. Like the NBA's version, defense isn't even optional, it's pretty much discouraged.

So truth be told, people don't watch the All-Star Game for the hockey. Really, mid-week games featuring the Blue Jackets and Oilers will provide a better game (not necessarily entertainment, however). Instead, fans watch it for the Stars , the chance to see their favorite players.

Or to see things we never get the chance to see.

Thanks to the Fantasy Draft, the possibilities exist for some squeamish line combinations that wouldn't otherwise have been feasible. Such as Bruins playing with Canucks. However seeing as one of the two captains was a Bruin, we missed out on some golden opportunity to have Zdeno Chara paired with Alex Edler while playing with Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Tyler Seguin in front of them with Tim Thomas in net. Oh, if Chara could have only seen the potential.

What Chara did end up doing was drafting a host of right wingers, making this pre-draft incredibly awkward exchange all the more apropos.

With all that said, thanks to our Line Mixmaster 3000 (patent pending) we were able to come up with some interesting lines with the teams that were selected -- and some lines that make you go "meh." Hey, you can't win them all.

(Do note we had to execute some position changes to get four even lines. But to Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Alfredsson: I see what you did. Lupul only helped Chara draft one left winger and Alfredsson only picked one right winger. Sorry fellas, you can't triple shift.)

Let's start with Team Alfredsson, considering he's the host and all.

As Seen in Ottawa line: Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson. Intrigue? Nah, there's not a whole lot on this one, frankly. Senators fans can see these guys together most every night. But you have an entire line of guys not out of position in their hometown ... it's a lock. But hopefully they keep the mic on Spezza during the game like he had it on in the draft and this time we can hear a full-out laugh. That's interesting enough.

Third Wheel line: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Logan Couture. OK, I'll relent and keep the Sedins together. The best third wheel for them is Couture. You have the whole Predators of the sea thing (Canucks' killer whale vs. the Sharks), the little rivalry between their teams and, well, just another way to pick on Couture a little bit after he was Mr. Irrelevant. Sorry Henrik, I don't think you're going to get those better players to play with this year (It's OK, Daniel, you can smile!).

I Believe I Can Fly line: Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, John Tavares. I had a harder time naming this line than any of the others (no doubt it shows). But the Flyers connection is pretty clear and they get an Atlantic Division friend in the mix in Tavares, somebody who has wheels that just might inspire Hartnell to try and skate faster and contribute to the Hartnell Down-O-Meter. Tavares converts to the wing to make it happen, a pretty easy transition from center.

The Forgotten line: James Neal, Steven Stamkos, Jason Pominville. Neal was the guy who the NHL just didn't seem to want to invite. It took the last replacement spot for Neal to get the call despite being second in the league in goals scored. Stamkos is the only guy with more goals than Neal and yet he's such a quiet superstar that some might not even be aware of that fact. As for Pominville? Well it's been a forgettable season in Buffalo so far, so he fits in here.

Defensive pairings: This is really a hodgepodge of names when put together, there's not a whole lot that screams out for obvious potential pairings. So I've got Shea Weber with Alex Edler (Western Conference the tie that binds), Erik Karlsson with Kris Letang (excessive use of the letter K) and Dan Girardi with Keith Yandle (ummm, they were each in that game that was won with 0.1 seconds left this season).

Now on to Team Chara. Here are the lines that we can put together, seeking maximum intrigue.

Cyborg line: Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla. The cyborg obviously references the man in the middle, but it also includes one of the league's ageless wonders in Iginla plus a guy with a connection to Disney. Hey, we have to make some stretches. The only person out of position here is Perry, being forced to the left wing because of Chara's right-side glut.

Miss-match line: Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik. Yea, there isn't a whole lot of connections with this line except Malkin and Gaborik are both from Eastern Europe. But hey, good for Benn to play his first game in weeks alongside the best player in the NHL the last couple of weeks in Malkin. He'll take it, I'm sure.

Two Blackhawks and a Kid line: Jordan Eberle, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa. So this line has a couple of players "out of position" but Kane is no stranger to center. We had to convert somebody to the middle and he's the easy pick seeing that he's played there this season. He gets to be alongside his Chicago buddy Hossa. Poor Eberle, he might not get to see the puck with these two guys. That won't make his fan club president (on the right) too happy.

Blackhawks and ladies? No doubt this will be Joey the Junior Reporter's favorite line to follow.

The Awkward line: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel. We saved the best for last. Yes, consider this the coup-de-grace of interesting lines. The two players -- Seguin and Kessel -- who will forever be tied to each other thanks to the trade between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, alongside another Leaf in Lupul.

“I said ‘Kess, I think we’re linemates,'" Seguin said to Kessel on Thursday (from the Boston Herald). "He said ‘That be cool. I think the media would like it.’”

Yes, Phil, yes we would.

Defensive pairings: Well we have to put Chara with Dion Phaneuf. Again, it's the Leafs-Bruins angle but also two of the more fearsome defensemen in the league. Good pairing. Ryan Suter gets paired with Kimmo Timmonen so they can find out if there is any chemistry there in case Philly is Suter's landing spot if he's traded. That leaves Brian Campbell to pair with Dennis Wideman. All I got here is Campbell is a current Panthers defenseman and Wideman used to be one.

As for a goalie to be mic'd up like Cam Ward was last year? I'm going to vote for Carey Price. Hey, any guy that does a campaign video like this and nearly spits his drink out when he's picked in the draft is probably entertaining enough to help carry the event for a period.

Enjoy the game. It will be a lot easier with some of the above intrigue. But please, leave your gripes about the lack of defense at home, we all know it's sorely lacking.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:23 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:42 am
 

2012 NHL All-Star Rosters

By: Adam Gretz

We knew which players were going to be taking part in the All-Star game this season, but we had no idea which team they would be playing for and who they would be playing against. It was all settled in Ottawa on Thursday night as Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the two captains for this year's game, made their selections as you can see below in the order they were picked.

Chara won the coin toss and ended up with the first selection and chose Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, and continued to load up on offense in the early rounds going with Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa and Phil Kessel.

Kessel, of course, was the last pick in the All-Star draft a year ago, but went in the eighth round this season. The last man standing this season was San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture

Two developments that should not have been a surprise to anybody: First, The Vancouver-Boston rivalry that started in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, and carried over into this season as we saw in their regular season matchup a couple of weeks ago, continued on as Chara did not pick a single Canuck.

That means that unlike last year when they were split up, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, will play on the same team as they've always done throughout their time in the NHL.

Also not a surprise: Alfredsson made sure to pick every Senator in the game, ending up with Erik Karlsson (his first pick), Jason Spezza (his second pick) and Milan Michalek.

2012 NHL All-Star Rosters
Team Alfredsson Team Chara
Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers, Goalie)* Joffrey Lupul (Maple Leafs, Forward)*
Erik Karlsson (Senators, Defense) Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings, Forward)
Jason Spezza (Senators, Forward) Tim Thomas (Bruins, Goalie)
Jonathan Quick (Kings, Goalie) Evgeni Malkin (Penguins, Forward)
Claude Giroux (Flyers, Forward) Marian Hossa (Blackhawks, Forward)
Kris Letang (Penguins, Defense) Kimmo Timonen (Flyers, Defense)
Steven Stamkos (Lightning, Forward) Corey Perry (Ducks, Forward)
Brian Elliott (Blues, Goalie) Carey Price (Canadiens, Goalie)
Shea Weber (Predators, Defense) Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs, Forward)
Daniel Sedin (Canucks, Forward) Ryan Suter (Predators, Defense)
Dan Girardi (Rangers, Defense) Jimmy Howard (Red Wings, Goalie)
Keith Yandle (Coyotes, Defense) Brian Campbell (Panthers, Defense)
Milan Michalek (Senators, Forward) Patrick Kane (Blackhawks, Forward)
Henrik Sedin (Canucks, Forward) Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs, Defense)
James Neal (Penguins, Forward) Jarome Iginla (Flames, Forward)
Alex Edler (Canucks, Defense) Dennis Wideman (Capitals, Defense)
John Tavares (Islanders, Forward) Marian Gaborik (Rangers, Forward)
Scott Hartnell (Flyers, Forward) Jordan Eberle (Oilers, Forward)
Jason Pominville (Sabres, Forward) Tyler Seguin (Bruins, Forward)
Logan Couture (Sharks, Forward) Jamie Benn (Stars, Forward)

(*Assistant Captain)

More NHL All-Star Game Coverage


For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:15 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Brothers Sutter meet in Calgary

By Brian Stubits

One of the many things I love about hockey is that it doesn't revolve around the coaches, they are hardly ever the stories. You can't say the same about other sports, particularly college athletics where the coach is sometimes the only constant there is. In the NHL, a lot of coaches are so quiet I'm not even sure half of the hockey fans out there could name all 30 bench bosses.

But this weekend in Calgary? It's about the coaches. Well it's now partly about a certain player's Flames debut too, but first to the coaches.

The Los Angeles Kings will be traveling to the Saddledome for a slightly awkward reunion. It's the first time that Darryl Sutter has been involved in a game in Calgary since he resigned -- all but forced -- as general manager for the Flames a little more than a year ago, leaving his younger brother Brent behind to continue to coach the Flames.

For those who suggest you shouldn't mix business with family, this is a good example why. During the time they were together working with the Flames, they had some problems with each other to the point that they stopped talking after Darryl was ousted. Imagine that, two brothers getting to the point of not talking based largely on their working relationship.

They were giving each other the silent treatment until Darryl reached out this week and at least reopened the lines of communications. Probably a good idea on many fronts, particularly about the one of avoiding the awkward moment at the game.

“We had a good chit-chat -- it was good,” said Brent, whose brother initiated the call, to the Calgary Sun.

“We talked about their team, about our team ... never once did we talk about anything personally. We talked about the kids. We were all over the map with it. That was the first time I talked to him. It was nice.”

Saturday won't just be the first time these two have been back together at a Flames game since Darryl left, but now it's also about the first time that Mike Cammalleri returns to the Saddledome in a Flames jersey since he left. That's thanks to the Thursday night trade of Cammy to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque going to Montreal.

The Flames could use the fire under their behind that perhaps current GM Jay Feaster is trying to send. His team hasn't been playing particularly well and a jolt to the roster might help recharge their playoff push. They aren't dead and buries in that race, especially considering the season is only half over, but they could use a run to help set them up for the finish.

At the least they got a player who's excited to be in Calgary -- again, in the case of Cammalleri.

"I am extremely excited, I was told I was traded and I wasn't sure where. I hoped it was Calgary," he said on Thursday after the trade.

"It's a place that I have such fond memories, I really have strong relationships with some of the players. I really appreciated playing there."

So that will bear watching, no doubt. But it's going to be tough to overcome the drama of the bench bosses.

And I just love it when things come together like this. It means absolutely nothing and has no bearing on anything that will happen on the ice, just little coincidences that are fun to mark. Darryl coached 210 games for the Flames. On Saturday night Brent will coach his, you guessed it, 210th game with the Flames. Not that that will steer the spotlight away from Darryl vs. Brent and the Sutter family equation.

“We’ve now had communication since then, and it has been good,” Brent said.

“Any way you want to look at it, we’re still brothers. I care deeply about what happens with him and how he does.”

Well the family feud will live on for 60 more minutes on Saturday.

Oh, Ottawa

I still haven't decided if the Ottawa Senators are as good as they have shown, but it's getting really tough to deny them based on a small sample size.

Now they have played at least two more games than every other team in the East except for Carolina, but that excuse isn't flying any more either. They are comfortably in the top eight in the East as it stands right now, right on the heels of the Flyers for the fourth seed. When you start beating the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with a shutout no less, then yea, it might be time to believe.

But we're going to find out a lot in the upcoming weeks, starting Saturday. OK, it actually started on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. That was when the Senators played their first of nine road games in a 10-game span. The only interruption in that road show comes on Monday with the Jets coming to Ottawa. After that, they go into their weekend as host for the All-Star Game with a trip that takes them out West.

But they can't play those before the play this weekend's game against the Canadiens first. They seem to be getting Montreal at the perfect time. They have all sorts of struggles and strife to deal with at the moment and could possibly be without P.K. Subban after his hit on David Krejci on Thursday night.

If the Sens can do what most everybody else is doing right now and beat the Habs, they will finish with six points in the three-game road trip.

It sure makes those four All-Star selections a lot easier to swallow, too.

Taking a Flyer

In all honesty, this isn't the best slate of games the NHL has seen this year for the weekend. There aren't a whole lot of really intriguing matchups pitting two elite teams.

But one of the better ones will be in Nashville, a cross-conference battle to boot. The Philadelphia Flyers will take on the Predators in Smashville. Adding a little more intrigue to the good matchup? The in-person scouting that the Flyers might or might not be doing on the opposition.

You are going to hear a lot about the status of Ryan Suter in the coming weeks, his name will surely be at the fore of all the trade speculation unless he signs a contract extension before then. Among the top contenders for his services will be the Flyers, already mentioned in the speculation.

That just adds a little underlying story to what should be a very good game.

Speaking of good games ...

The Blackhawks and Red Wings clash again. They went a long time this season without renewing acquaintances, but now they are meeting seemingly every week.

The next round in their Central Division battle comes on Saturday at the ripe ol' hour of 12:30 from the Joe in St. Louis. I wonder if the Blackhawks will even be functioning at that hour.

Joking aside, hopefully the start time doesn't take away from the quality of games these two put on. The first two meetings this season came in Chicago and each was a 3-2 game (Blackhawks won the first, Wings the second in OT). You can always count on great hockey when these two get together.

Now that realignment has been halted, hopefully the next proposal doesn't split these teams up.

Pesky Stars

That's the nickname that has caught on in Dallas regarding their Stars. Pesky. I guess it's because they won't go away.

Dallas isn't as big of a surprise as a couple of other teams this season, including the above-mentioned Senators, but that doesn't mean they aren't a surprise. Here it is mid-January and they continue to hang around in the Pacific Division race as well as the Western Conference.

They will look to continue their pesky ways against the Colorado Avalanche this weekend. The Avs are as up and down as any team in the league this season. There seems to be no happy medium with them. After their most recent run they are no slipping back down the slope, going into Dallas with a three-game losing streak.

It's a battle of a pair of mild surprises in the West. These all count when it comes down to season's end and each of these hopefuls is trying to sneak into the postseason. The schneid list is getting long.

We're going streaking!

Here are the hot and cold streaks going into the weekend's action.

Senators: Talked about above, they have won three straight and only visit Montreal.

Toronto Maple Leafs: How 'bout them Leafs, huh? They take a four-game win streak into Buffalo on Friday night and if it holds will take a five-gamer into Saturday night's home game against the Rangers.

Predators: Three games and counting heading into the Philly matchup.

Flames: Lost in all the other talk surrounding Calgary, they have actually rattled off three straight wins since returning home from an unfruitful road trip.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens are entering unchartered territory here. They bring a six-game losing streak with them to Florida for the Sunshine State saunter, at the Panthers on Friday, Lightning on Sunday.

Buffalo Sabres: While the Leafs have won four in a row going into Friday's game, the Sabres have lost three straight. They also visit the Islanders on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The postseason run followup isn't going as planned. Five straight losses going into Friday at the Capitals, Sunday vs. the Penguins.

Avalanche: How long will this skid go? Right now it's at three games.

Edmonton Oilers: My how long ago that season start seems. They have fallen 23 points behind the Canucks in the Northwest and have lost four in a row. Their one chance to snap that comes against the Kings on Sunday night.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:00 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Toddler's message to Ryan Suter: Please sign

By Brian Stubits

The Nashville Predators are in an unenviable situation. They entered the season with their three biggest players all needing new contracts. They got one taken care of early by signing goaltender Pekka Rinne. That leaves defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Suter has appeared to be next on the list for the general manager David Poille considering he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer while Weber will still be restricted. Obviously as of yet no deal has been reached, so the fans in Nashville are getting in the wooing effort. Even the 1-year-olds.

Predators blog On the Forecheck got a little more background on the video and no, it's not completely staged. A married couple who happen to be big fans of the Preds were discussing the possibility of their favorite player, Suter, leaving.

One of us said out loud "We HAVE to sign him" ( Suter). and my 18-month-old daughter repeated it. We werent sure what she said so we asked her again. and she said "Please sign". I had just gotten the family custom jerseys for Christmas, so we slapped it on her and prayed that she would say it again. She did and we filmed it, as it seemed to sum up exactly what we wanted to say.

They better hope this video helps get Suter under a new contract, and soon.

With every passing day that Suter remains without a contract for next season, the trade speculation will only increase. Point me to a team in the NHL and I'll show you one that would love to add Suter to their defensive corps. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com just mentioned today that he knows the Flyers, who are looking for some help at defense after Chris Pronger was shut down for the year, covet Suter. As I said, probably most every team does, frankly. He's an excellent and still young defenseman.

I'm still a firm believer that the Predators can and will have all three players back for next season. But I admit, my confidence is getting shaky on the Suter situation.

Suter wants to see that the Predators will be a franchise that can win, and I think they have shown that in the past year. They made it to the playoffs last season and won a series for the first time. They are right in the hunt again this season despite playing in the ridiculously tough Central Division. By committing to Rinne I think it shows their willing to spend some more than the salary floor too. Before the trade deadline, I don't know what else the Predators can do.

That's where this video could come in. I don't think it will do much to help, but it can't hurt.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Looking ahead to 2012

CrosbyBy: Adam Gretz

The new year is right around the corner, and now that 2011 is almost in our rear view mirror, it's time to look ahead to what might be for the NHL in 2012.

1) What, if anything, will (or can) the NHL do about its concussion problem?

The NHL has a problem, and it's been highlighted throughout this season as some of the league's best and brightest players have been sidelined with head injuries at various times. And in many cases, an extended period of time.

Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Milan Michalek, Mike Richards, David Perron, Marc Staal … the list goes on and on, and it doesn't seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. You can't go a week in the NHL, sometimes even a day, without hearing that another player has been diagnosed with a concussion or has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

With the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season it's worth asking what the league and the NHLPA can do to help combat this problem. A complete banishment on all head shots will always be talked about it, but it seems unlikely to happen as long as the NHL's old guard remains in charge.

Perhaps my favorite suggestion, and one that would probably please most everybody, including the goaltenders, is to eliminate the ridiculous and nonsensical trapezoid rule and allow goaltenders to play more pucks in the corners. That would potentially reduce the number of times defensemen have to be subjected to violent hits from oncoming forecheckers in the corners.  Reintroducing the red line to slow the pace through the neutral zone has been brought up, as well as possible the addition of no-touch icing.

And speaking of player safety...

2) Will we get any closer to mandatory visors?

As we've talked about before, there are still enough players that view visors as their own personal choice (which it currently is) and something that they shouldn't be forced to wear.

But that was also once true for helmets and goalie masks, and they've now become an accepted (and common sense) piece of equipment. The issue seems to be getting more and more attention than it has in recent seasons, and the first reaction that comes up anytime somebody takes a puck or a stick near the face is to automatically look to see if said player is wearing a protective visor. Like the addition of helmets, it's likely a rule that will be grandfathered in. Perhaps making matters easier is the fact that many of the young players entering the league today are already wearing visors given that they're mandatory at the sports lower levels (the Canadian Junior Leagues, the American Hockey League).

3) Will the 2012 NHL season start on time?

The NFL went through a dreadful lockout that eliminated its offseason and threatened the start of its regular season, which was then followed by the NBA missing a large chunk of its regular season due to its own completely pointless work stoppage. Major League Baseball, suddenly the model of long-term labor peace in professional sports, quietly and quickly went about its business and had everything settled before anybody even realized their agreement was up for discussion.

And now it's the NHL's turn. Panic? Fire and brimstone?

Will the league and the NHLPA be able to come to some sort of an agreement like MLB did, or will it be more along the lines of the NFL and NBA where it's a long, drawn out process with maddening twists and turns that leaves fans pulling out their hair?

The last time we were in this position we lost an entire season and came back to a completely different league.

4) Will the Coyotes remain in Phoenix?

Until the team actually moves to a new home or a long-term, viable ownership situation is in place in Phoenix this question will not be going away. And if the former is what happens, what does that do to the NHL's new conference alignment?

The league went through a franchise relocation in 2011 that resulted in a radical realignment as the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, leading to the NHL overhauling its divisions and playoff format.

But what happens if the Coyotes, after surviving another season in the desert, don't remain in Phoenix and relocate, as has been talked about and expected for years? Do we have to go through another realignment discussion and re-do everything that was just settled?

5) How many more turns for the NHL's coaching Carousel?

Nearly half of the league went through some sort of head coaching change during 2011, and let's face it, with way NHL teams dismiss coaches there is no doubt the coaching carousel will continue to spin out of control. It's already kind of amazing that, with all of the changes that have taken place this season, Columbus' Scott Arniel has made it as long as he has given the worst start in franchise history. Toronto's Ron Wilson is in the final year of his contract and has recently taken to Twitter asking Santa Claus for a certain piece of paper (presumably a contract) for Christmas.

6) Will Nashville be able to keep its prized defensemen?

When Nashville signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to his massive contract extension earlier this season it produced one of two possibilities going forward: A) The team will now be a "cap team" and spend more money than it's ever spent before in an effort to keep its best homegrown players, or B) the signing of Rinne means one (or both) of their two No. 1 defenseman, Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, will eventually be lost to free agency.

Weber still has one more year before he hits the unrestricted market, and will once again be up for restricted free agency after this season. Suter, on the other hand, if he hasn't signed before July 1, will be eligible to sign with the highest bidder.

7) Who will host the next Winter Classic?

Technically this game won't be played until 2013, but the decision will be made long before then and every team wants an opportunity to host what has become the NHL's signature regular season event. Gary Bettman has already all but promised Washington D.C. the game in the very near future, so that's on the table.

I'm a fan of taking the game to Michigan, perhaps the Big House in Ann Arbor, for a Red Wings game, or even to the State of Hockey and allowing the Minnesota Wild to play host to the game for its passionate fan base at perhaps either Target Field (home of the Minnesota Twins) or TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota stadium).

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 11:24 am
 

Nashville's other star defenseman, Ryan Suter

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- There's a certain young defenseman who plays in Nashville that gets a ton of praise. He also just got a ton of dough and will surely get more this offseason with what is shaping up to be a season worthy of another Norris Trophy nomination.

He is Shea Weber, without a doubt the biggest star skating in a Nashville Predators jersey. His booming slap shot is a thing of legend. Didn't you that one about how you can hear it breaking the sound barrier?

Weber, no doubt is excellent and deserves all the accolades that come his way. In addition to his strong defensive play, he is also tied with a few of his teammates for the team's leading goal scorer this season with eight. It's almost a case of no such thing as being too much praise.

My only problem with all of that is how it takes away a lot of attention from one of Nashville's other young and supremely talented defensemen, Ryan Suter.

The chances of it happening are remote, but if there were two teammates in today's NHL that could be named finalists for the same award it would be Weber and Suter in the Norris discussion. That's because this season is going as well or maybe even better than any of Suter's six other seasons with the Predators -- offensively speaking he has five goals and 16 assists already.

"It's going good," Suter said. "The main thing is our team, how our team plays. We've been playing well; we're kind of up and down. But when we're on our game we're playing good and it's fun to be out there."

They have been on that up side as of late. Before losing 4-1 to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, Nashville had won five games in a row. The confidence was growing again for a team that made it to the second round of the playoffs last season and had every intention of keeping that franchise momentum moving this year.

Of course, a large part of continuing what they have begun in Nashville is getting the star players under contract beyond this season. They already took care of that with goaltender Pekka Rinne, signing him to a monster seven-year deal. But that still leaves Weber and Suter.

In the case of Weber, the Preds still have a little control as he will be a restricted free agent this summer, just like he was last summer when he received the biggest arbitration settlement in NHL history. But much the case with his attention as a player, Suter's situation seems to be a little overshadowed by his All-Star partner.

There are a lot of people who doubt that the Predators, operators for a long time on a budget in line with the NHL's lowest, will be able to sign all three to the deals they will command. So that leaves a lot of people believing Suter is the odd man out. Personally speaking, I believe the Predators can and will do their best to keep all three players. One is already down.

It's sort of an elephant on the season for the Predators, the contract situations. If neither Weber nor Suter is under contract come the trade deadline, GM David Poille will have some serious thinking to do. Does he want to risk seeing Suter, an unrestricted free agent, walk away for nothing in return? That quandary will haunt a GM.

But for now it's not bothering Suter much. Either that or he's just saying all the right things.

"You try not to think about the future, you just think about the present," Suter said regarding his contract situation. "You are just playing as good as you can and helping your team win. You're helping to get the young guys better. So far I think it's been going well."

In years past it would have been easy to write off the possibility of Suter returning to Nashville for another season. Let's be honest, Tennessee didn't exactly scream attractive NHL market. But the market in Nashville is proving what a little winning can do for any non-natural team (except Phoenix, unfortunately): increase the popularity.

"It really is [becoming a good hockey market]," Suter said. "The fans get better every year. They get -- I don't know how to say it -- more educated I guess. It gets bigger and bigger every year. The ownership group is doing a great job getting fans in the building."

The fans in Smashville, as they like to call it, have turned Bridgestone Arena into one of the tougher venues to play at in the league. Part of that is the sea of mustard yellow both on the opposing jerseys and in the stands, but it's also the atmosphere.

One way you can tell how excited and hockey smart the city is becoming is just to peruse the blogosphere. There is no shortage of ways you can find information on the Preds.

"It all comes back to us winning," Suter acknowledged. "If we continue to play well at home and on the road and continue to get wins, then it's going to be a fun year."

They sure hope so in Nashville. But nothing would make for a fun year more than keeping Suter and Weber around to ensure many fun years to follow.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com