Why, And How, The Blackhawks Make A Play For Ryan Suter

If you’ve been asleep for the last 60 days, here’s what you’ve missed: the Blackhawks are in the hunt for both the number one and number eight seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and are one defenseman away from either of those spots.

The best defenseman that could be on the market is inside the Hawks’ division. Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators is an Olympian, an All-Star and, most importantly, an unrestricted free agent in July.

As the trade deadline gets closer, the Blackhawks will continue looking for a top-four defenseman in a market that doesn’t appear, on the surface, to have one available other than Suter. Here’s why, and how, the Blackhawks make a play to get Suter to the United Center.

There are two parts of the “why” equation, both of which are painfully obvious.

First, the Blackhawks could use an all-world defenseman. There would undoubtedly be a long-term financial consideration the club would need to make to Suter at some point in the not-too-distant future, but what Suter would bring to the Hawks isn’t on the current roster or in Rockford.

Secondly, which might be of equal importance when considering Suter, the unquestioned number one suitor for Suter (yes, suitor for Suter) is the Detroit Red Wings. With Nicklas Lidstrom potentially retiring this summer, and with a truckload of cap space opening up, the Wings are fully expected to make Suter a healthy offer if/when he hits the open market.

To be plain: if Suter doesn’t sign with the Preds before July 1, he’s expected to be in Detroit on July 2.

So not only should Chicago GM Stan Bowman be incented to make his roster better, but he should also consider keeping an All-Star out of Detroit. By landing Suter, Bowman could effectively impact three teams in the Central Division next year.

Of course, all of this discussion is great… but if the Hawks can’t get Suter, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Could the Hawks make a legitimate play for Suter?

Earlier this week, TSN’s Darren Dreger indicated during an “Insider Trading” segment that the Preds would be looking for a package that included four pieces if they were going to move Suter: an NHL player, an “A” prospect, a “B” prospect and a first round draft pick.

The Philadelphia Flyers are said to have interest, and it’s doubtful that the Hawks could include a prospect that’s as well-regarded as Brayden Schenn. But Chicago could put together an outstanding package that could at least give Nashville a moment of pause when considering keeping Suter beyond the deadline.

Chicago could (and should) offer Nashville Niklas Hjalmarsson, Bryan Bickell, two prospects from a list including Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, Ludvig Rensfeldt and Phillip Danault and their 2012 first round pick for Suter.

Hjalmarsson’s a “nice” player. He kills penalties and blocks shots, and that’s “nice.” But that’s pretty much all he does, and with two more years on a contract with a $3.5M cap hit, the Hawks have enough depth in the organization that he needs to be more than “nice” for that money.

Suter is an instant upgrade on the blue line from Hjalmarsson. Making the deal from a Chicago perspective, based on the impact on their 2011-12 roster, is a no-brainer.

For Nashville, there is a bigger need to fill than a roster spot if they decide to move Suter. Shea Weber is a restricted free agent this summer, and will want to see indications that the Preds are going to compete if he’s going to sign a long-term deal in Nashville. If the Preds ever moved Suter, they would do it for a package that enabled them to then sell the long-term viability of their roster to Weber.

Chicago has the ability to send two good forward prospects to Nashville, which would instantly upgrade their organizational depth. The Predators’ prospect depth is largely on the blue line; the leading scorer in Milwaukee, their AHL affiliate, is 25-year-old Chris Mueller, who has 30 points in 39 games.

Perhaps the top forward prospects in their organization not at the NHL level already are Michael Latta and Taylor Beck. Latta has 24 points (12 goals, assists) in 38 games in Milwaukee as a 20-year-old this year. Beck, 20, has 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 40 games with Milwaukee.

By comparison, Pirri, also 20, and has 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 44 games with Rockford. But the Hawks’ organizational depth at center is such that they could move a player like Pirri and replace him with Mark McNeill, who is having a monster season in juniors.

The Blackhawks would absolutely have to spend the money to keep Suter in Chicago long-term if they considered making this deal, but that truthfully shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. More than enough cap space exists in Chicago to fit a 27-year-old in his prime. He is what Hjalmarsson has failed to be: a legitimate top-three defenseman in the NHL.

This would be a pretty substantial roll of the dice by Bowman. As we discussed earlier in January when we looked back at the lessons we can learn from the mid-200s Flyers prospect pool, dealing from a position of depth can backfire. Certainly there is every reason to think Pirri, Morin, Danault and Rensfeldt can be quality NHL players some day; that’s why the Blackhawks think so much of them, and why the Preds would view each of them as an “A” prospect in the deal.

But if the Hawks could improve their blue line, and, in doing so, take Suter off the 2012-13 roster of either the Preds or Red Wings at the same time, there is almost too much incentive to be ignored. And with the pieces to make a deal happen, Bowman should at least see if Nashville is interested.

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37 Responses to Why, And How, The Blackhawks Make A Play For Ryan Suter

  1. Tim says:

    I like this proposal. Hammer is, like you said, “nice”. But With players like Olsen, Lalonde, and Leddy all looking like they could be in the long term plans for the Hawks, Nik isn’t needed. You swap him, Bickell, Morin or Pirri, Rensfeldt or Danault, and a First Rounder with no question if the return is Suter. I would perfer not to see Morin AND Pirri be in this deal, but if that what it took, then maybe we could get a 5th or 6th rounder in return with Suter. Either way, I would love to see this deal.

  2. Pat D says:

    I honestly think that it would be a great move for the Hawks if they could pull this off, especially if they could move Hammer and get Suter in return. The Blackhawks were put in a bind after winning the Cup when San Jose tried to poach Hammer, and the Hawks were forced to choose between him and Niemi, and for all that money Hammer as you said has not developed into that Elite player we all wanted/thought he would be. I think keeping Morin would be more beneficial, especially if Bowman could put together a package with Hammer, Bickel, and perhaps a another defensemen from Rockford. It would be a triple victory for the Hawks, they would have arguably the best 3 of the best D players in the NHL with Suter, Seabrook and Keith and that would undoubetly help Crawford in the net, plus they would Weaken both Nashville and block Detroit. I hope that Bowman can work out a deal and make this happen!

  3. Logan Reilly says:

    Interesting idea.

    All I know is if they lose to the Oilers tonight I’m gonna go ballistic. lol

  4. Brad Stevenson says:

    Great article Tab, that is why you are the best on the Net…or what’s left of it…

    This is a move, IMO, that the Hawks HAVE to make…one thing that you did not touch on in your article, and yet I know that you are aware of it, is the Seabrook and Keith situation…for the last one and a half seasons they have been GOOD Defencemen, but not GREAT Defencemen…together they make a good pairing, but not the shut down pairing that they once were…so when you really look at the Hawks D situation, we have a 2, a 3, and possibly a 4 in Hammer…currently a good 5 in Leddy (I have no doubt he is a top 2,3 DMan in another 2 years), a decent 6 in Montador.

    So if we trade for Suter, what do we have NEXT year…a top NHL D pairing in Suter/Seabrook (and tough as nails to play against), another outstanding and fast pairing in Keith/Leddy, and a 3rd pairing that features Montador with Dylan Olsen. So when you look at it, our Defence gets dramatically better for about the same money overall. Plus, as you said, it hurts Detroit and Nashville dramatically.

    The only thing that makes this trade very difficult for the Hawks to pull off is that it is within the division and David Poile is a suspicious, cautious GM…it would take a WOW deal to get Suter to Chicago. I would think Nashville would want Leddy instead of Hammer, Frolik instead of Bickell, one of the Hayes brothers, either McNeil or Danault, and a our first rounder. That would be a tough group to part with, but I would still do it. Ryan Suter makes this team legit SC contenders right now…and he will allow us to bring up more rookies, sooner, because of his presence, making the cost of the overall roster even less.

    Again, thanks for the great article.

  5. Predfan 306 says:

    The thing that Nashville needs, and Weber wants, is scoring. I don’t think forwards in terms of prospects and draft picks will do the trick.

  6. Bonehead says:

    Great thought process in this article, can you email to Stan?

    Brad may be right that Nashvilles interest is likely in the higher ceiling young players, but their should be some discussion happening.

    But, Stan lacks the stones to make this big a deal midseason!

  7. E says:

    So is there where I say I told you so, or? Just kidding, but I’ve been looking at this move for months. It’s the most beneficial, and we have more depth at forwards then necessary. We’re young, and the sacrifice we’d have to make would look worse than it is. We’ll still have our core, it’s hard for forwards to be bad considering the players surrounding them. We have Morrison now, who will hopefully congeal into his position, or even a third line role. But I’m glad you’re finally giving Suter some consideration, Tab.

  8. Tyler says:

    I love the idea of getting Suter, but the one thought I had while reading the article was – what about the rumors of a reduced salary cap? Some of the sports writers make it seem like it will defiantly happen, do the GMs have any idea how much it might lower – and for that reason, could the Hawks really afford Suter long term?

  9. robinson says:

    Do it, hit it whiles its hot.

    Trade anyone of those guys… Whatever they want from those players that were listed. Make it happen. Dont care about the small details. Overpay, give them more than everyother team offers to do it and resign for whatever (we traded 7.1m contract for a reason…).

  10. James M says:

    Kane for Suter?

  11. Tab Bamford says:

    to James: no

  12. Jeff says:

    Wow. Kane for Suter.

    Now that’s something to chew on. Yeah can’t do it.

    Interesting to see who will have a higher cap number next year. Bidding war?

  13. Tim says:

    I’ve been one of the most open people to trading Kane, but Kane for Suter would be an overpay. We would need to fill multiple deficencies to consider trading Kane. Something in the ballpark of Suter, Hornqvist, and Wilson for Kane, Montador, Bickell. But even then I think we could do a little better for a PPG 23yr.
    However, I would do Stalberg, Bickell, Hjallmerson and a 2nd for Suter, even with Stalberg’s progress this season.

  14. Mike says:

    Hate to say it, but the “Kane for Suter” comment is the only thing on this entire page/article that would a starting point in any sort of deal to get Suter to Chicago.

    Trading Kane, while a great hockey decision, would be a PR nightmare, so it won’t happen. Time to move on from here…

  15. James M says:

    I mean, look, I like Kane, and haven’t shared the anti-Kane sentiment that appears here and there. He won the Cup and he has sick puck handling and passing skills. That shootout goal on Backstrom was unreal, and he is exciting to watch. But I don’t know, I suppose I’m assuming some of the prospects can fill what we would lose to an extent. Maybe that would backfire because obviously teams have to respect Kane. I just can’t see us landing a solid dman, especially since other teams know how desperately we need it, and I don’t want another Montador (who is a great guy, but is not filling the need). And what happens of Keith or Seabs goes down soon or in the playoffs? We’re screwed. I mean seriously, what do we do?????

  16. James M says:

    Yeah, Mike, I’ve argued before that Kane stays for that reason: he sells too many jerseys and is basically the ‘hawks equivalent of Justin Bieber – daddy’s take their little girls and pay $700 a ticket for glass seats to see Kane…I don’t see it happening, but at the same time, I think it’s gonna cost something like Kane to get us what we need.

  17. andrew says:

    kane for suter is over pay, but 4 players and a 1st round pick isnt? im not saying trade kane, but the players you say to trade are players that should stay. at least morin, pirri, and hjalmarsson. hjlmarsson isn’t bad. he does his part in defense. he isn’t supposed to score. he blocks shots, and kills penalties. sounds like a defenseman to me. trade somebody like lepisto or scott. two guys who just fill roster space and dont play.

  18. Tim says:

    Andrew- Do you know what Lepisto and Scott can you on the open market? Not Suter. Hjalmarsson is nice, but Suter is better. So you upgrade. But Nashville would want value in return. So you need players who have value to Nashville to make up that difference. And 3 additional players wouldn’t be an overpay. Bickell doesn’t play everyday, so a healthy Kyle Beach can fill that role. Pirri is nice, but you have McNeil doing very well in Juniors who can replace his depth. And then you have Rensfeldt who is so early in his progression, you don’t really know what you have. So you dont
    “Lose” a whole lot in any of those 3, can you gain from a 4th DMan in Hjalmarson to a 2nd DMan in Suter. That is what trades are about. Sure, Pirri and Bickell and Rensfeldt could all develop, but then again they could all be bottom 6 players for their career. Getting Suter for 4 players gets what you what you need NOW. Every year is a chance to win the cup, and you have to treat it as such. Holding on to players and hoping for the best won’t cut it more often than not.

  19. Glenn says:

    Question: (assuming the proposed trade is meant to be more than a rental) how do the Hawks ensure Suter will resign with the Hawks after they pay through the nose to get the guy (providing it’s even possible that the Hawks and Nashville could come to terms)??? Wouldn’t the trade be separate from the Hawks negotiating a contract extension with Suter?

    Pay all that much and then have him sign with Detroit on July 1st anyway – YIKES!

  20. shamrock says:

    I agree with Predfan 306 If Weber is looking for a committment from the Preds front office prospects arent going to get the deal done. They dont get him closer to winning the cup this year. I would think he wants proven talent back in that trade. Personally, I would not be willing to part with McNeill or either of the Hayes brothers.

  21. pete says:

    Im getting sick of saying this but I will say it one more time. When we traded Campbell to dump salary and picked up Montador to replace him got slower and less skilled. Now your talking about dumping Hjalmarrson and a good piece of the future for a very good defender in his prime. Problem is that we still would have only 3 1/2 defenders and thus the same problem with less of a future going forward after giving up the picks and prospects. We need to keep our core(including Hammer) and add to it with another 2nd pairing defender. I suggested going for Edmonton’s Smed, he plays us tonight. We need to trade prospects and picks for a solid second paring defender. Don’t give up our core and for the last time trading Campbell was a mistake.

  22. Tim says:

    Pete- Trading Campbell was a mistake. Opening the cap was important, but we had no replacement, and got almost zero compensation in the form of Olesz. But Trading Hjalmarrson in a package for a top 10 D-man is hardly “dumping” him

  23. pete says:

    Campbell was overpaid but at least he was/is good. Montador is overpaid and he is somewhere between bad and below average. So we got worse hoping for a trade deadline upgrade. If that doesn’t happen we end up worse than we would have been if Campbell stayed and we just went with prospects getting better over time. I don’t want to trade/exchange core players. I want to add to the core and try to replace Campbell.

  24. Brad Stevenson says:

    Absolutely trading Campbell was a mistake because we haven’t done anything to replace him…we have all this cap space and are losing one goal games and Bowman hasn’t done a thing, except an over the hill Centre, with injury problems the last few years, in return for our #2 D prospect.

    At the time, I liked moving Campbell and his salary, but that was only because I was waiting for his younger, tougher, cheaper replacement to show up…and if we end up getting some 2nd hand stiff in the next week, we will have overpaid twice (once for Montador and once for DMan at the trade deadline) and still may not have replaced Brian Campbell.

    For as many things as Stan Bowman does right, he equals with bonehead moves.

  25. pete says:

    Brad you said it better than I could have. Is the criticism of the Montador signing 20/20 hindsight. In other words, did Bowman have every reason to believe Montador would be better than he is or is it something he should have known. Also, what do you think of my idea to get the Edmonton defender Smed.

  26. James M says:

    I don’t think Stan thought Montador would be a cheaper Campbell at all. I think he was looking for a different kind of player, not a finesse player, but a big body that can stop screens, clear the crease of bodies, and clear the puck (rather than start the rush)… In that way, the move made sense, but Monty hasn’t been this kind of presence

  27. pete says:

    So he was giving up skill and finesse for a physical presence and saving about 4 million in cap space at the same time. I get the general idea, but it hasn’t worked and now we are scrambling to get back where we were. We have also been lucky on injuries. I saw a stat that had us as being the second least injured team in the league. With all the issues we almost knocked Vancouver out last year. I would have kept the team intact, brought the prospects along to fill in and still signed Mayers. We still would have had the space for Mayers and that was a good signing.

  28. wall says:

    Pete and James- I would like to think that Bowman is a smart guy… I have never paid attention to Buffalo or Monty prior to this year… but after Pre-season and first two weeks of season- I QUICKLY AND DECISIVELY JUDGED MONTY A BUM!!!
    So I can only hope that Jr. is looking ahead 1-2 years for the next Cup run! (and sees Monty as a 5 0r 6 D-man as we do). If Bowman truly expected him to be more…
    Shame on him!

    I thought Olsen was our best (and only good) D man in the prospect camp! His downside is- he seems a little slow (mentally) to react in front of goal. But hopefully he will learn-and improve- he is a beast on the boards.

  29. Old Timer says:

    I have made this comment before, but I have to say it again. Trading Hammer is the only way to go. Weak passing skills (slam it up the boards), average shot that he never gets off, and no physical presence. Basically a shot blocker. Leddy has all the tools, plays the same game as Keith (offensive), and can be a stud teamed with Seabrook. Pick your poison to fill the 6th slot with Montador.

    Move some of the forward depth in the farm. Morin carries some NHL level respect. Let him go. Package up Hammer, Frolik (or Stahlberg if you have to), Morin, Pirri, and a pick or two and this deal gets done. Daneault must stay. Detroit can’t/wont match that offer since they (almost) never moves picks or promising farm players. Shaw/Stahlberg bring what the top line needs. Shaw/Frolik/Stahlberg fills that 3rd line slot just fine. Win now and re-sign Suter in July.

  30. James M says:

    I think for a while I thought the remaining cap space could be used in such a way that we had the potential to gain more than we lost. But now, with defense and center in high demand and low supply, I’m not so sure. It was a gamble. I just wish it wasn’t coupled with other bad signings like Bruno, O’Donnell, and Lepisto.

  31. James M says:

    It’s beginning to look like the more egregious error was letting Niemi walk… I think we need a goalie after tonight.

  32. Biggs says:

    bickell has sucked, crawford has been awful since the defense lays him out to dry, then he gives up a softy…..the offense doesnt’ convert when they have quality opportunities.. Stahlberg has speed with the hands of stone………………..anybody missing Veersteg? Only Mayers has worked out. This is on the GM — you made this mess –now fix it. Feb 27 and counting……………….

  33. Pete says:

    We have Scott on the power play kill against the fastest team in the league. We have been on a talent drain since winning the cup. If we don’t make the playoffs Bowman needs to go!!!!!

  34. ivan says:

    Suter will not reach the open market.

  35. Kyle says:

    If he did, Nashville wouldn’t let him go to anyone in their own division. I would be great! but so was me pam anderson wet dream when I was 14.

  36. Barry Brown says:

    Barry Trotz luvs him some good defensive players. I don’t think is going anywhere and certainly not to any team above Nashville in the Central.

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