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Predators tie up another young defenseman @NHLdotcom

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Defenseman Ryan Suter talked about the pressure to live up to his new four-year, $14 million contract starting this fall when Predators general manager David Poile interrupted.

"To your new contract," Poile said.

Suter resumed and finished, "To my new contract and just show up and perform every night, so it's a lot more responsibility now."

The Nashville Predators are determined to keep as many of their young, talented players off the free agent market as possible, and Suter was the latest to benefit Monday. The team's first-round pick in the 2003 NHL draft is among three defenseman from that draft now playing for the Predators.

Poile now needs to try and reach a contract with another defenseman in Shea Weber, and he also has been talking to the agent for Dan Ellis to try and keep the goalie off the free agent market after leading the NHL with a .924 save-percentage.

"We have a great core to build on and to be one of the best in the National Hockey League," Poile said. "Usually, when you have the best defense, I think that gives you a real good chance to compete for the prize, and that's ultimately what we want to do. That's why we're here today, and that's why we've taken another step in signing one of our core players in Ryan Suter."

Suther has spent the past three seasons with the Predators and set career highs for assists (24), points (31) and penalty minutes (71) this past season. He led all of Nashville's defensemen with seven goals and was second in points.

He helped make NHL history in Game 3 of the Predators' playoff series with Detroit in April, scoring a game-tying goal followed by Jason Arnott's game winner 9 seconds later. It was the first time in NHL history that a team had gone from trailing to leading a playoff game in less than 10 seconds.

Suter said the Predators have a young team he believes can do some damage.

"I wanted to be here from the start, so it was easy in that regard. It's nice. The money obviously is nice. But Nashville is a great place, and we've got a great young team, and I really want to be here," Suter said.

The signing follows the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on June 6 by minority owner William "Boots" Del Biaggio in California. The Metro Nashville Sports Authority agreed last week to give the team's other owners time to find a replacement for the $9.8 million guaranteed by Del Biaggio.

Poile said the signing is proof of the ownership group's commitment to the team. The Predators also hold two picks in each of the first two rounds of the upcoming draft.

"I know this is another step toward their commitment toward putting a competitive team on ice and to giving us the best chance to win," he said.

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