Most serious hockey fans – and that includes all of you, my loyal and smart readers – already have heard the news that the Minnesota Wild will buy out the final four years of the contracts of veterans Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. The Wild will have nearly $15 million in dead cap space for the next four years. Ouch.
Each player will become unrestricted free agents on July 28. The Colorado Avalanche will be like any other team – free to make an offer for either player, at whatever terms they desire.
Parise almost certainly wouldn’t draw interest from the Avs, given his age and injury history. But what about Suter?
The fact is, despite being 36, Suter is still putting up very good numbers for a defenseman and he will draw heavy interest around the league as a free agent. So, what about a fit between him and the Avs, the team whose NHL odds to win the next Stanley Cup are currently the best of any team in the NHL?
I can see it, but only if the Avs lose Ryan Graves or Erik Johnson to Seattle in the expansion draft, or they’re traded away first (or, in Johnson’s case maybe, bought out too). Otherwise, I can’t see Suter being a great fit on a team that would have a top six of Makar-Toews-Girard-Graves-Johnson-Byram, and that’s not even mentioning Conor Timmins and Jacob MacDonald.
It’s been known for a while now that Johnson won’t have to be protected in the July 21 expansion draft, because he’ll waive his No-Move clause. Seattle has to get to a $60.24 million cap floor by opening night, so they need to take on some pricey contracts. But you have to still think it’s highly unlikely Seattle will take him with their Colorado pick.
That will leave Graves likely to be exposed, and he’d certainly be a reasonably good choice for the Kraken. That would create an opening in the current top six (assuming Johnson is back). Bo Byram should be the logical choice to take that spot. It makes the most sense that he’d take that spot in the lineup (and maybe Timmins too).
But if the Avs have any hesitation about playing Byram that much, a guy like Ryan Suter would be a hell of a fill-in. Of course, would Suter want to come to Colorado, knowing he won’t be the top guy on the power play anymore (that’s Cale Makar’s job) and unlikely to play as many minutes as he ever did in Minnesota? Maybe he wouldn’t, in which case this was all wasted breath here.
But maybe the Avs are just the kind of team Suter wouldn’t mind coming to and maybe this all could happen.
At least one well-known hockey reporter thinks it could happen:
Parise to NYI
Suter to COL
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 13, 2021
These next two weeks just got more interesting. Maybe.