It was a chicken-and-egg scenario.
The Nashville Predators wanted to hang on to defenseman Ryan Suter and to sign free agent forward Zach Parise. They couldn’t attract Parise’s interest, though, because Suter was not signed. They ultimately lost Suter because he wanted to play with Parise.
In other words, they ended up with neither the chicken nor the egg and their plans were scrambled.
“I had reached out to Zach Parise and his agents about his interest in Nashville,” general manager David Poile said Wednesday. “… Zach would have been more interested in Nashville if we’d already had Suter signed. I asked Ryan to connect with Parise.”
Ultimately, of course, Suter and Parise connected as members of the Minnesota Wild.
The two agreed to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts that provided an unprecedented amount of certainty to their relationship, which dates back to roughly a decade ago. Previously, they played together for one season in the U.S. National Team Developmental Program and on numerous national teams, most recently the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team, which won the silver medal at Vancouver.
"I know how great of a player Ryan is," Parise said. " To have the opportunity to play with a guy of his caliber, this is a great opportunity.
"… Ryan and I talked about this: We like what they are doing here in Minnesota. We like the pieces. Our hope is that we can come in and help this team get to where we want to go.”
The Predators still have to figure out where they go next.
They have five defensemen who were on the team and at least in the rotation at the end of last season. Their organizational roster includes former first-round picks Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis, and they have Hal Gill, acquired in a trade last February, under contract for two years as a result of a deal struck two days before the start of free agency.
They also have a lot of money.
Even before Suter and Parise spurned them, the Predators had more money available under the current 2012-13 salary cap, which is subject to change pending the outcome of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, than any other NHL team. Currently they are roughly $15 million shy of the minimum teams are required to spend on salaries and a little more than $30 million away from the cap.
That means there are numerous options team officials can explore through trades or free agency between now and the start of the season.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s a little bit of a new challenge,” coach Barry Trotz said about Suter’s decision. “You never know. What we think is a setback today may open the door to something else.”
It is no secret they want to direct a significant chunk of that money — as soon as possible — to captain Shea Weber as part of a long-term deal. If Weber, currently a restricted free agent, declines a long-term offer he is in position to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
Their plans for Weber, in fact, have not changed despite this week’s developments.
“Even though Suter went to Minnesota, we were trying to sign Suter, Weber and Parise,” Trotz said. “There was a big commitment organizationally. It was a real tough task trying to pull it off.
“I’ve been in the organization a long time and there used to be a lot of can’ts — ‘You can’t do this,’ ‘You can’t do that’ — because of our situation. Those are all eliminated.”
It wasn’t that they couldn’t. The just didn’t.