DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 19: Ryan Garbutt #40 of the Dallas Stars skates the puck against Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center on February 19, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The biggest fish in the sea among defensemen is unquestionably Ryan Suter. The career Nashville Predator will hit the market on Sunday looking to stack paper to the ceiling, and he's going to. The only question is who is going to open the vault for him. No one outside of Texas links Suter to the Stars, but as we all know the Stars have made it known that they don't have a budget.
They're in on everyone willing to talk to them.
The Stars have a need for at least one defenseman. Ideally they need players who can comfortably slot in on the top pair. Suter fits the mold. He's a two way all situations defenseman that hits, passes, and shoots at above average levels. The Stars would be lucky to land him, but how realistic is it?
It isn't very realistic given that every big name team in the league appears to have both the cap space and the desire to sign him. It's still June though so there is no harm in speculating. I wouldn't recommend getting your hopes up though.
Suter fits a significant organizational need for the Stars. Suter never leaves the ice. Last season he averaged 26 minutes per night. The Predators used the pairing of Shea Weber and Suter head to head against the top competition of the opposition anywhere on the ice on a nightly basis.
As you can imagine that pairing was the best in hockey in numerous categories. Part of the problem with evaluating Suter though is determining what value he brings, and what value Weber brings. They're both incredibly good players. Both guys can play on the top pairing for any team in the league. The question is whether or not Suter is "that guy" that a team can build their entire defense around. The consensus seems to be yes, and he will need to be considering the contract he's about to get.
If he were to sign with the Stars he could play a similar role in Dallas to the one he played with the Predators. You could see the Stars put Suter on the ice with Stephane Robidas to form a very good two way pairing. Alternatively Suter could skate with Alex Goligoski to allow Goligoski the opportunity to create more offensively.
Really, the Stars could use Suter anyway they want to and he'd be a valuable member of the team. The only question surrounding Suter is the contract. It's going to be massive. The Stars say they have no budgetary limitations, but the length of this contract is much more problematic than the annual salary. Are the Stars willing to commit for at least seven years?
I'm not going to complain if the Stars sign Ryan Suter. I still don't think he's that much better than Jason Garrison, and certainly not enough better to be worth twice the contract. Several places discuss free agent strategies of teams across the NHL. Most of those places talk about Suter as the first option with the team then moving on to Garrison or someone else as #2. As consistent as Suter has been I still think the Stars are better off pursuing Garrison above Suter.
The Stars may sign neither player. There is little question that they'll be involved in the discussions. We'll know how serious they are about trying to spend the money they have saved this weekend.