The Rangers top four defensemen are certainly the envy of the conference and most likely won’t change before the season opener. With that said, there is always a chance Sather makes a move for a Nash, or Bobby Ryan, etc. If such a trade were to be made, one of those four would likely have to head in the other direction. It’s not a move I would make, but it is still within the realm of possibility.
The fallout of said trade would require additional moves or signings, which leads us to UFA Ryan Suter. The 27 year old offensive defensemen is coming off a 4 year, $14m deal ($3.5m cap hit) and is taking his first crack at unrestricted free agency. Whether or not the Rangers would make an offer he can’t refuse remains to be seen, but as providers of opinions and analysis we’ll happily do our due diligence.
Suter entered the league following the lockout in 2005-06 and put up 1g and 16pts in 71 games. Since that time he has scored between 4-7 goals and 30-45 pts per season. Not too shabby. What separates Suter from other available defensemen are his wheels. Suter is very mobile and could conceivably fit perfectly into the Blueshirt’s aggressive system.
Torts requires all of his defensemen to be strong skaters, as they are needed to join the rush, frequently pinch, and backcheck like hell when their defensive partner goes in on the forecheck. It’s kind of why the Mara’s, McCabe’s, and Rozi’s never quite panned out. Suter wouldn’t have that issue.
From an advanced stat perspective, Suter’s corsi numbers (which measure puck possession based on shot attempts) are all strong, despite having sub 50% offensive zone starts (faceoffs only) and facing top competition. These numbers aren’t the be all and end all, but they certainly don’t jive with observational analysis.
It’s not a fault in his game, but he is a pass first defensemen and not the bomber from the point we’d all prefer. Weber is that guy and was clearly the d-man who was fed on Nashville’s blueline. Point in case, Weber had 143 shots on net last season, 72 of them slap shots, while Suter had 85 shots and only 22 slappers.
In my opinion, the Rangers don’t need any more pass first players, not on offense, and certainly not on defense. Our team has shown the ability to create scoring chances. Our lack of converting those chances is the real problem. I don’t think Suter helps us in that regard.
The top offensive defensemen in this league, who were signed during unrestricted free agency, make north of $5m per season. I doubt Suter’s contract will be much different, so long as it’s not one of those decade+ contracts.
Keep in mind, as a 23 year old Suter scored 7 goals and 31 points in his third season in the NHL. Michael Del Zotto just scored 10 goals and 41 points in his third season in the league at the ripe old age of 21. Tell me again why people refer to him as Del Zaster? Yeah, thought so. The fact of the matter is MDZ scored roughly the same amount of points as Suter and will likely do the same next season for a fraction of the cost.
The Final Word:
Everything out of the media suggests that Suter will ultimately end up in Detroit to fill the skates of the recently retired Lidstrom and Rafalski. Minnesota is also supposedly looking to spend money on the blueline this summer and of course he could always return to Nashville. Either way, rumors are swirling that he’s looking to stay in the Western Conference.