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Haggs: Boston Bruins Better Off Without Suter, Contract Ask



While Ryan Suter could have been a glove-like perfect fit for the Boston Bruins based on who he is as a player on the ice, a proper fit for an NHL team goes well beyond the skill set on the ice. There’s always team chemistry considerations and the salary cap factor to deal with as well, and those were also most definitely decisive considerations when it came to Suter and the Bruins.

That’s why it’s a good thing for the Boston Bruins that things aren’t going to work out with the 36-year-old Suter as he’s narrowed his choices down to “Dallas, Florida and others in the mix.” It’s believed that the Boston Bruins are no longer one of those teams and the New York Islanders likely aren’t at this point, either, and that Suter is instead seeking a four-year contract that he believes he is going to get from one of those other NHL destinations.

Obviously, every player in Suter’s situation has earned the right to hand-pick their NHL home, but we’re also talking about a decorated, respected veteran that’s already earned over $100,000 million in his NHL career. Quite honestly, one has to wonder about Suter’s burning desire to win a Cup in his advancing years if he puts contract term, or lack of state income tax in his targeted destinations, over the actual hockey situation when it comes to winning.

Perhaps we’re also starting to see why Minnesota never really made any noise in the playoffs (two playoff series wins since 2012-13) while Suter and Zach Parise were the big dogs there, and that might be part of the reason why Wild GM Bill Guerin surprisingly decided to buy them both out this summer in a culture change.

It reminds this humble hockey writer of Jarome Iginla picking Colorado as his NHL landing spot after he left Boston because the Avalanche were willing to give the aging great player a three-year, $16 million deal. It felt like Iginla was choosing the most lucrative contract over a chance to add a Stanley Cup at the end of a Hall of Fame career, and Suter seems to be taking the exact same path by leaning toward teams that currently aren’t all that close to winning.

For the Bruins a four-year deal for a defenseman that’s going to turn 37 years old next season is a non-starter and it absolutely should be for every other NHL team out there as well. Suter can still play even as he was bought out by a Minnesota Wild club clearly looking to clean house in the Minny dressing room, even as the 6-foot-2, 206-pound Suter still posted three goals, 19 points and still averaged 22:11 of ice time while finishing a plus-9 last season.

Suter is not the Norris Trophy-level candidate that averaged almost 30 minutes per game as he did in his prime years, but he’s an experienced workhorse that can still play very effectively in all situations. That’s exactly what the Bruins are looking to add to the left side of their defense that currently boasts Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril and John Moore on the depth charts. But it’s not worth having dead money tied up in an aging player that can’t live up to the contract he signed, a lesson that Don Sweeney learned after signing David Backes away from the St. Louis Blues.

So where do they turn to at this point with a well-documented need for “that elusive left defenseman that chews up minutes”?

“The elusive left D we’ve been looking for that can chew up a lot of minutes,” said Boston Bruins President Cam Neely, when asked what he would add to this current core Boston Bruins group in a perfect world. “Maybe play on the second pairing with Carlo. That’d be more of a shutdown or some puck movement [with] some offensive blue line acumen. As we saw, you can never have enough D and we never seem to have enough.

“For some reason or another, we get banged up. I think our D this year had maybe eight concussions, which is something I don’t know how to combat. But that position is something that we’ve been looking [at] for a while. Hopefully we can do something to grab someone that’s going to help maybe play 20 minutes a game for us.”

The Bruins are linked to free agent defenseman Derek Forbort as they wait for the open of NHL free agency, and there have been whispers that the Boston Bruins are working on a bigger deal with the Vancouver Canucks that could involve left-shot defenseman Nate Schmidt and other pieces as well. One would suspect that Vancouver would have to take on a contract like Moore to facilitate that kind of a trade, but stranger things have already happened with player movement ramping up across the NHL right now.

The bottom line continues to be that the Bruins need to find a quality top-4 defenseman on the left side, and they need to find somebody sooner rather than later even if it’s probably a good thing that Suter isn’t going to work out.

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