NHL Free Agency: Why Ryan Suter May Not Be the Best Option for the Red Wings

Adam Rickert@adam_rickertAnalyst IIJune 2, 2012

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 15: Ryan Suter #20 of the Nashville Predators tries to get around the stick of Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings during Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 15, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Nashville won the game 3-2 and lead the series 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

To state the obvious, with Nicklas Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart likely heading West, the Detroit Red Wings need to make some moves to restructure the defense.

Due to the absence of these two, Detroit will have around a whopping $20 million of cap space to spend in free agency. The name that keeps popping up is Nashville's star defenseman Ryan Suter, who is friends with fellow American Zach Parise—New Jersey's star captain who the Red Wings would love to have in order to bolster their lackluster powerplay.

Many believe that if Detroit adds one of these two, the other will ink a deal as well.

Zach Parise would be a huge addition to a Detroit offense already featuring names like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm. Signing Parise would be all Detroit needs and more to restore the offense which struggled near the end of last season.

Yet, some say that in order to get Parise, Suter will also have to be signed. What the Wings need right now more than anything is a defenseman like Suter, and if signing him is what they need to do in order to get Parise, I am all for it.

However, some are saying that Suter should be the Red Wings' No.1 target in free agency. I disagree.

Now, the Wings have pretty much all of the money they need in order to sign replacements, so money should not be an issue. Yet, there are some other defensemen that the Wings could get at a lower cost that may be better investments than Suter. The three defensemen that interest me are Dennis Wideman, Jason Garrison and Matt Carle.

Last year, Suter tallied seven goals and thirty-nine assists with a plus-fifteen rating. Wideman had the same amount of points (but more goals and less assists), yet he has a minus-eight instead because he is more of an offensive defenseman.

Garrison scored sixteen goals—more than twice as many as Suter—with a worse team. Matt Carle only had four goals and thirty-four assists, but he is a true asset to have from a defensive standpoint.

Suter has shown great talent during his tenure in Nashville, but I honestly believe that his numbers could be slightly tainted because of his defense partner—Shea Weber. While Suter's defense partner in Detroit would likely be Niklas Kronwall or Ian White, both of who are great defensemen, I believe Weber is the best defenseman in hockey and playing with him would surely benefit Suter from a statistics standpoint.

Since the Red Wings have so much money to spend this summer, the ideal situation for me would to send an offer sheet of the highest allowed value to Shea Weber, who is a restricted free agent. Obviously, not much talk of this has occurred because Nashville would almost certainly match Detroit's offer, but I say it is worth a shot.

There is no replacement for Lidstrom, but Weber would definitely be a force on the Red Wings' blue line.

If the Weber deal doesn't happen (which I'm almost certain will not), the Red Wings should try to sign Wideman, Garrison and Carle. Suter is a great player, but a huge contract may be a bit of a risk without a Zach Parise addition as well since Suter's numbers may be skewed.