The Predators are still very much in the mix to re-sign Ryan Suter. However, there is a solid possibility that Suter finds a new NHL home in the coming hours, days.
If the All-Star defenseman leaves, Predators GM David Poile won’t be able to find another Ryan Suter – at least not this summer. But Poile is ready to pull the trigger on Plan B in the event that Suter does sign elsewhere. There are options, more so via trade than free agency. What are some of those options?
Yes, Bouwmeester is overpaid in Calgary. With a cap hit of $6.8 million, he simply hasn’t delivered the way the Flames hoped he would since he was their “big-ticket” signing back in 2009. However, Bouwmeester, a two-time All-Star in Florida, could benefit from a change of scenery. He could complement Shea Weber and maybe open things up for the captain. The cap hit wouldn’t be as big of a worry to the Predators since there are only two years remaining on Bouwmeester’s contract.
He is no Ryan Suter, but Carle plays a mirroring style. Carle thrived in his time with the Flyers prior to testing the market this week, averaging nearly 38 points in the last three years – a tad below Suter’s average of 41 in the same time period. Playing next to Chris Pronger (when the future Hall of Famer was healthy), Carle proved to be an effective minute-eating defenseman. If Poile wants Carle, though, he’s going to have to spend a lot of money. His new contract could exceed the five-year, $26.5 million pact Dennis Wideman signed in Calgary.
In early June, a Winnipeg columnist suggested the Jets should entertain the idea of dealing Enstrom if it yielded a top-six forward in return. However, the Jets have signed two forwards in recent days and may be better off starting the season with Enstrom patrolling the blue-line. If GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is willing to listen, Enstrom could be an intriguing option for Nashville. The 27-year-old has one year remaining on a contract with a $3.75 million cap hit and is a premier power play quarterback. In his five-year career, Enstrom has two 50-point seasons under his belt. He is also accustomed to logging top-pair minutes.
By no means would Leopold be a sexy option on the back end. A nine-year veteran with a lot of tread on the tires, Leopold has one year left on his contract on a $3 million cap hit. In the last four years his point totals have ranged anywhere from 24 to 35, but he has averaged upwards of 22 minutes per game in the last two years. Leopold probably shouldn’t be Poile’s Plan B, but keep him in mind. It wouldn’t take much to get him and the Sabres have a surplus with eight defensemen sporting one-way contracts.
Like Bouwmeester, Martin could benefit from a change of scenery. Martin excelled in New Jersey where there was structure, but hasn’t been worth the $5 million Pittsburgh is paying him. But there is a disclaimer here: the Penguins are unlikely to trade Martin unless they obtain some sort of an upgrade. If Suter or Carle don’t go to Pittsburgh, it may decrease the chances Martin comes to Nashville.
It takes a lot more to acquire/sign a puck-moving defenseman than it does one of the stay-at-home variety. Salvador falls in the latter category. The 36-year-old defenseman has an injury history that may scare off some teams, but he is also coming off a standout postseason where he played a big role in New Jersey advancing to the Cup Final. Salvador could be a short-term solution and really beef up the blue-line at a cheaper price than Carle. Opponents would hate facing Weber, Gill, Salvador and Klein on the penalty kill.
Phoenix possesses a lot of young defensemen ready to receive NHL playing time, so Yandle is said to be available for the right price. At the same time, the Predators may not be a trade fit. The Coyotes specifically want a center (and a lot more, including a first-round pick) in return for Yandle, who has emerged as one of the NHL’s better-rounded blue-liners. Poile is desperate in search for a potential Suter replacement – and Yandle would be a damn good one – but it seems unlikely the Predators would be able to pry him out of the desert.