The Detroit Red Wings are crossing their fingers that Ryan Suter reaches free agency on July 1. But to get a crack at the Nashville defenseman, the Wings might have to get aggressive before that date, based on a report by Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period:
League exec told us last night he expects Preds to deal Suter rights around draft, ‘just like they did with Hamhuis, Hartnell and Timonen’
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) June 12, 2012
Nashville trading Suter’s rights would only occur once the Predators rule out the possibility of re-signing Suter — the two sides reportedly have been talking recently and a decision is expected to come soon. If Suter opts to test the free-agent waters, Nashville will do what it can to return some value on him, though any trade must be completed before the July 1 start of free agency.
What does that possibility mean for the Red Wings?
Well, any number of things potentially:
1. It goes without saying that Nashville would prefer Suter wind up somewhere other than Detroit -- and somewhere other than the Central Division, if possible. So, the odds that the Predators would trade Suter's rights to Ken Holland are pretty low, unless Holland really blows the Preds away with an offer.
2. Just because Nashville trades Suter's rights somewhere does not mean he'll sign. If Suter has his heart set on getting to free agency and hearing from Detroit, he might be reluctant to sign with anyone prior to July 1, regardless of whether or not that team traded for the chance to negotiate with him.
3. It's hard to say what the market might be for a trade of Suter's rights, given point No. 2. If every other team is convinced Suter wants to test the waters and that he has a favorite team or two, they'll be pretty reluctant to cough up a draft pick or package of draft picks just to chat with the Nashville defenseman.
Long story short, we don't know a whole lot more about how the Suter situation will be resolved, except that, if Bernstein's report is accurate, the Predators might be close to accepting that they won't have Suter in the lineup next season. Whether or not you trust the report is your own call.
But Suter opting against staying in Nashville would be enough to give Red Wings' fans a ray of hope, even if they have to sit on pins and needles while another team gets first crack at signing him.