Ryan Suter has more than enough options in front of him this summer, but staying in Nashville is his best bet.
There are several other more important factors, however, that make no move the best move for the star defenseman.
Let's take a look.
Money matters, but Ryan Suter will be rich regardless of where he signs.
The prized blue-liner holds the luxury of considering other factors and even giving those other factors more weight. He plans to do exactly that, according to Tennessean Predators Insider Josh Cooper.
"Ryan has told me (a lot of) times it’s not about the money, and I feel he’s going to compensated very well with us or anywhere else,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said. “I don’t think we’re going to be losing out on Ryan Suter’s decision based on money. That’s what he has told me and I firmly believed (that) by what I would be prepared to put forth in an offer that the decision is not going to be about money.”
No one would blame Suter for heading to literally greener pastures—no one, except for Suter himself.
The Predators are the best team for Ryan Suter because Nashville is the best city for him.
Fans sometimes forget that big-time professional athletes are still humans. Free agent decisions aren't always made completely in context of a sport. The rest of an athlete's life comes into play too.
Suter's impressive list of suitors indicates that he is well above your average NHL player. He's not your average NHL star, either.
The high-priced defenseman doesn't want to make a spectacle of his free agency. In fact, he doesn't even want to meet with the teams pursuing him.
Suter will instead relax at his farm outside Madison, Wisc. His agent Neil Sheehy—who also wants to avoid a "dog and pony show"—will be at his office in International Falls, Minn.
Tennessean Predators Insider Josh Cooper gives us some more insight, this time on how the low-key persona of the leagues most sought after blue-liner fits perfectly in his current NHL home.
"Suter is a midwest guy who likes the anonymity of playing in Nashville," Copper writes. "The laid-back nature of playing a majority of games in Western Conference markets—many of which aren’t nearly as rabid as Eastern Conference teams—fits his personality."
Suter won't find that kind of an atmosphere in hockey-crazed towns like Pittsburgh, Detroit or even Minneapolis.
Ryan Suter is taking his time to decide where to sign as an unrestricted free agent because he is looking for more than just a huge pay check.
Suter wants this to be the last time he signs a contract. He wants to settle down, and so does his family. His next deal doesn't just determine where he plays for the rest of his career. It also determines where he and his family live for the next seven or so years.
Family matters, especially to a man raised on Midwestern values.
"It’s such a big decision for me and my family," Suter said, according to Tennessean Predators Insider Josh Cooper. “Wherever I sign, I want to be there for the rest of my career, and that affects my family, my wife, my kid, if we have more kids, everything plays into it."
Staying in Nashville allows the Suter family to avoid a big move and all the hassles that come with it.
Ryan Suter is expected to seek out a Stanley Cup contender this summer.
He doesn't have to look far.
Nashville's playoff run proved that the Predators can compete for hockey's ultimate prize. They even knocked off Detroit—one of Suter's strongest suitors—along the way.
This is not the NBA. Suter does not need to join forces with other league stars to win a championship. He doesn't even need to bolt to a powerhouse dynasty. Those just don't exist in today's NHL that has produced nine different champions in the nine most recent finals.
Los Angeles highlighted how much parity exists in the NHL by winning the Stanley Cup as a No. 8 seed. Small-market teams like Nashville can claim legitimate contender status too, even and especially coming out of the league's toughest division.
The Predators certainly showed they belong in the playoffs. Once there, anything can happen.
Paul Gaustad firmly believes that Nashville can hoist hockey's holy grail and compete for it on an annual basis. He then signed accordingly.
Suter would be wise to follow suit.