The Minnesota Wild shook the hockey world Tuesday when they bought out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. With Suter now a free agent, the Washington Capitals could be interested in targeting the left-handed defenseman in free agency.
Sources indicated to Washington Hockey Now that the Washington Capitals are one of two teams already interested in right-side defenseman Ryan Suter, who will be bought out by the Minnesota Willd.
Stick tap to Colorado Hockey Now‘s Adrian Dater for assisting with the report. The well-placed source told Dater the Los Angeles Kings and the Capitals are two teams that could potentially pursue Suter if he’s still available on July 28.
Currently, John Carlson, Justin Schultz and Nick Jensen are the Capitals right-side defensemen. Schultz will be a UFA after the coming season but Suter would be an upgrade over him and Jensen.
Analysis: Would that deal make sense for Washington?
Well, it could — for the right price.
Suter still has a lot left in him. He has finished in the top-20 for Norris voting 11 times in his career. Suter is a strong puck mover who’s dished 40+ assists in three of the last four seasons. The 36-year-old also has an underrated shot and would mesh well with Peter Laviolette‘s systems as an offensive defenseman. He also plays well in his own end, sacrifices the body to block shots and battles hard for the puck.
In 56 games last season, Suter registered 19 points through 56 games and was a plus-9 while averaging 22:11 minutes per game. He led all Wild blueliners in games played, and his CF% of 47.85 ranked second while his GF% (54.44) and xGF% (52.74) ranked third among Minnesota d-men with at least 4GP.
The Capitals face a lot of uncertainty on the blue line with the expansion draft looming. They have a plethora of talented defensemen, but can only protect three. Logistically, it’d make the most sense to protect John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Justin Schultz. That’d leave Brenden Dillon as the last top-4 defender exposed, and also leave RHD Nick Jensen and Trevor van Riemsdyk up for grabs. If the Kraken end up taking Dillon, it leaves a hole in the top-4. Not only that, Zdeno Chara is set to become a UFA and could retire or go elsewhere.
Michal Kempny is training this offseason and can log top-4 minutes, but he does need time to transition back after missing the entire 2020-21 campaign. Martin Fehervary is also likely to make the full-time jump to the NHL this coming year, but rushing him into a top-4 role right away would put a lot of pressure on the rookie and potentially hinder his play.
Bringing Suter on board for a lower salary would be ideal for Washington. They could benefit from another puck-moving defenseman who can lead by example, especially with younger guys coming into the lineup. He’s also been able to stay healthy over time, which would serve the Capitals well. In addition, the Caps need another strong puck-mover to help shake up the power play, and Suter could play a major role in that and add significant scoring depth on the backend.
If he does draw in on the top-4, this would likely see Kempny drop to the third pairing and have Fehervary as the 7D. This wouldn’t be the worst thing, especially to ensure the blue line stays healthy down the stretch.
Overall, it’s a decent option Washington, especially if the Seattle Kraken go after Dillon or another LHD.