The Minnesota Wild made waves on Tuesday afternoon when they announced the buyouts of both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter at the same time. They signed 13-year mega deals on the same day back on the Fourth of July in 2012, and now their Wild careers have ended on the same day. The question now becomes, where do they end up as unrestricted free agents?
Suter’s sudden presence, in particular, is a big one, in an offseason where the group of left-handed defensemen isn’t stellar. There are a few teams in particular that I think should make a run at signing him. He has made an estimated $104,360,064 in his NHL career, according to CapFriendly.
At 36-years-old, Suter has yet to win a Stanley Cup, so it’s possible that he signs a reasonable, short-term deal with a contender. That won’t stop teams that aren’t necessarily contenders from trying to sign him, though. Here are five teams that I think could use Ryan Suter.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have a really nice core of young players in the mix as they try to take the next step towards becoming a legitimate playoff contender. They were on the outside looking in from fifth place in the East Division this past season. With just shy of $23 million in projected cap space, per CapFriendly, they could make a deal for Suter work to bolster their back end.
Their biggest internal priorities this offseason include putting pen to paper with Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Igor Shesterkin. But, it’s certainly possible that they could have cap space to get those deals done and sign a veteran defenseman like Suter. The left side of their blue line currently consists of K’Andre Miller, Ryan Lindgren, Zac Jones, and Anthony Bitetto. Adding a guy like Suter to the mix amongst a largely young, capable group of defensemen for a year or two could really strengthen their blue line and give them options.
There’s a whole lot of uncertainty on the left side of the Jets’ blue line, outside of Josh Morrissey and his long-term deal. Their biggest free-agent priorities are new deals for Andrew Copp and Neal Pionk with just over $20.5 million in projected cap space to work with. They could absolutely insert Ryan Suter into the mix at the right price and can’t afford to let their defense hold them back if they want to make a cup run.
The Bruins made the best out of what they had on the left side this past season. They embraced the youth movement on the back end with the departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug in free agency. When it all comes down to it, things could have gone better defensively on the back end for them.
Suter would serve as a solid top-4 defenseman along with Matt Grzelcyk on the left side. Whether he were to play on the first pair with Charlie McAvoy, or the second pairing with Brandon Carlo, there’s very little doubt in my mind that he would improve the top-4 by a fairly significant margin.
Carlo is fresh off a six-year, $24.6 million contract extension and Charlie McAvoy is due for a big payday sometime in the future. Suter would serve as a solid defensive partner for either of them for the short-term future. With just over $26.1 million in projected cap space to work with, despite having a good deal of business to attend to, Don Sweeney has the ability to bring Ryan Suter to Boston.
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Vegas Golden Knights
With limited business to attend to when it comes to their internal free agents, I think it’s possible that Suter could be signed in place of pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Alec Martinez. Outside of Martinez, Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon needs to figure out what the future holds for forwards Mattias Janmark and Tomas Nosek.
With just shy of $6.1 million in projected cap space, this could be tricky depending on what McCrimmon decides to do with Martinez, Janmark, and Nosek. But, if he can make it work, adding Suter would make an already formidable Vegas defensive core even better.
The Coyotes are in a much different spot than any of the aforementioned teams. They have quite a bit of unrestricted free agents on defense with just over $31.4 million in projected cap space. These defensemen include, but aren’t limited to, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Jordan Oesterle. Perhaps Suter is viewed as an ideal left-handed defenseman to go along with Jakob Chychrun and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Similar to the Rangers, the Coyotes were on the outside looking in from fifth place in the Pacific Division. If they could sell Suter on Arizona, it could really help their chances of making a return to the playoffs. Whether Suter wants to play for a team that could be considered by some as a tweener team remains to be seen, but I think the Coyotes should at least try and bring him in. It could be a tough sell, though.
Some GMs of these teams will have a tougher time than others bringing in a player like Suter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these teams try. It will be interesting to see what the next stop is in his long NHL career.
**All salary cap figures per CapFriendly**