With the decision on Ryan Suter's future forthcoming, a dark horse candidate could end up stealing one of the league's top free agent players.
The Minnesota Wild have entered the fray as one of the favorites to land either Suter or Zach Parise (or both), and Suter's agency has announced via Twitter that a decision will be made Wednesday.
Client Ryan Suter plans on making a decision today.—PAUL OSTBY (@SHEEHYHOCKEY) July 4, 2012
Although the Wild were rarely spoken of as a major contender to land Suter, the tides seem to be turning, and the once unthinkable possibility could happen. In fact, Minnesota could really make noise by landing both Suter and Parise, who are hands down the top two free agents in the market.
Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Twitter that Minnesota are ahead of the pack.
And the front runner for Parise and Suter at 10:24 a.m. EST appears to be....the Wild.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) July 4, 2012
Suter has been rumored to be a possibility for a large number of teams—the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, the hometown Predators—among others. But the Wild were all too often looked on as a farfetched possibility, considering their lack of winning breed compared to their competition.
But the Wild‚—along with the Red Wings—were fortunate enough to meet with Suter face-to-face Tuesday, according to Ryan Dadoun of Pro Hockey Talk. And with agent Neil Sheehy's announcement early Wednesday that a decision was coming, it's hard to assume that these two teams aren't the clear-cut favorites.
The general thought was that if Suter were to leave Nashville, it would be for a better chance at winning his first Stanley Cup. After the Predators got knocked out in the second round of this year's postseason, questions surfaced on whether or not he could win a Cup quicker in a different city.
We can only speculate what Suter's market size preference is, but if that's the main swaying point for this decision, we're left scratching our heads. He can choose from one of the smallest markets in Nashville that he's already familiar with or a large market in Detroit or Philly, if that's his preference.
Besides, the Wild have had major trouble winning in recent years. They've missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons and finished 12th in the Western Conference last year. The Preds, the other small-market team in the mix, have made the playoffs seven of their last eight seasons.
There's no doubt that Parise's decision would weigh on Suter's chances of landing in Minnesota. Star Tribune reporter and Wild beat writer Michael Russo believes that Minnesota missing out on one will mean missing out on both.
"If the Wild lands one, it should land the other. If the Wild misses on one, it will undoubtedly miss on the other."
We should find out sooner rather than later, and the teams who missed out on the Suter sweepstakes will be left to pick up the pieces of an exhausting first four days of NHL free agency.