We move on from the draft today and into the more fun part of the summer, free agency. Instead of trying to pretend that we know anything about teenagers plying their trade in some Canadian backwater you wouldn't send the boss you hate to, or pretending you don't feel weird at all that you do know something about them, we get to deal with players we do know about and can figure out how they'd fit in.
And we'll kick it off with the big fish, Plan A, the whole idea, the big enchilada, and any other label you can think of...Ryan Suter.
2011-2012 stats: 79 games, 7G 39A 46P, +15 30PIM 26:30 ATOI +.55 Behind The Net, 0.067 QofC, -2.98 CORSI
What's scary about this is that the Hawks don't appear to have a Plan B, and they're going to have a lot of competition for Suter and they don't seem to be able to offer anything that others can't. They don't have more money than other teams, they can't offer a better chance to win than say, the Panguins, and they can't offer him the sort of quiet market he reportedly is seeking. Due to the other free agent d-men, if the Hawks miss out on Suter they're probably going the trade route or going with what they have. Which won't encourage anyone much.
Anyway, to Suter. There's no question he's a wonderful player. Smooth, smart, rugged when he needs to be, there isn't much on the ice he can't do. But there are a couple caveats. The sample sizes are very small, but when either Suter or Weber had to play without each other due to injury, neither was very good. Now, give either of the a while to learn to play with a new partner, and that probably goes away. But not having a partner of such quality is bound to affect Suter's game a little. Secondly, Suter isn't much of a power play savior. He has 11 power play goals in his career. Now, he's spent of his power play time just trying to dish to Shea Weber, and Seabrook can be a poor man's version of that weapon, kind of, if Suter can keep setting him up. But he would give the Hawks another player that resembles a QB back there, and they only have one right now in Leddy. Thirdly, Suter's playoff resume isn't glittering, and this past spring he was kind of scorched by the Coyotes.
One last note, as we found out in the playoffs but kind of knew all along, the Predators were just not that good of a 5-on-5 team. Maybe that's just the forwards they have, maybe it was just the style, but handing over close to 8 mildo a year for the next decade to a player with a negative CORSI rating for the year? I wonder...
On the plus side, changing to the Hawks possession and attacking style would seem to suit Suter. When the Preds did need to push it, it was him doing it. He makes an excellent first pass out of the zone, and the Hawks struggle with that at times. He can skate himself out of trouble, and only Keith really does that at the moment and that element is key to the Hawks game. And he'll get up into the rush, which the Hawks need. He doesn't run around looking for hits but plays the gap game the Hawks prefer, though he's hardly a push over in the corners.
Still, considering the expense, it just doesn't feel right. On the ice, it makes total sense. With Suter, the Hawks would have three d-men at least who can take 25 minutes a night, and any step forward from Leddy would see four. But considering the slight warning signs, the cap-destroying contract it would take, the competition (aren't we all resigned to him going to Pittsburgh anyway?), I just don't see it.
But it sure feels like the Hawks don't see it that way.