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Suter: No need for panic in contract negotiations

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com
All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter wants to stay in Nashville. David Poile wants his All-Star defenseman to stay in Nashville.

Now it's about making the marriage work amid the distractions of trade winds that will continue to swirl if a new deal between Suter and the Predators isn't reached before the Feb 27 trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET.

Suter, who is currently day-to-day with an upper-body injury, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Poile has had contract discussions with Suter's agent Neil Sheehy this season.

Ryan Suter
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 25
SOG: 87 | +/-: 7
"Our deadline is July 1," Poile told NHL.com. "My first goal has been and still is to sign Ryan and we're going to try to do it. The sooner we do that the better off I believe our franchise is in terms of making other decisions going forward. That's what we have been working towards."

Poile admits he has to be prepared to trade Suter at the deadline under certain circumstances. For instance, if the Predators fall out of the race in the Western Conference and contract talks break down, he knows if he puts Suter on the market he'll be able to get a strong return for a two-way defenseman averaging more than 26 minutes of ice time per game.

However, neither Poile nor Suter expect something like that to happen. They definitely don't want it to.

The Predators had their five-game winning streak snapped by the rangers in New York on Tuesday, but they've won eight of their past 10 games and are sixth in the Western Conference with 56 points. They are just five points out of a tie for first place in the Western Conference.

Suter, who is nursing an injury that will likely keep him out for a second-straight game Thursday, has 25 points in 45 games this season. The Predators have been outscored 4-0 in the five periods he's missed during the past two games.

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"If they trade me they trade me, but I want to win and I'm going to do everything in my power to win," Suter told NHL.com. "If we're winning, I hope that David will maybe go out and get that extra piece; work the other way rather than deal me, and we'll take care of the rest later. I tell David, and I'm telling you right now, straight up, that I like it in Nashville and it's a great place to live."

Suter said the last part with an emphatic tone in his voice. He also stated his appreciation and affinity for Nashville earlier in the interview, but added that he is trying to focus solely on playing hockey, though admittedly that's not easy.

"Obviously it's in the back of your mind and you do think about it, but you try not to and just try to play as hard as you can and do the best you can for your team," Suter said. "If you keep winning and have a chance to go far into the playoffs and hopefully go far, the rest of it will take care of itself. I think the big thing is to just focus on winning the Stanley Cup and if you do that, everything else will take care of itself."

Suter understands the distraction, at least for the time being, is not going away.

He's an All-Star defenseman that is due a significant raise from the $3.5 million he is making this season. But, the Predators, who have the lowest payroll in the League this season, recently signed Pekka Rinne to a new contract that pays him $7 million annually and captain Shea Weber, who was awarded $7.5 million in arbitration last season, is a restricted free agent following the season.

Weber said he plans to work on a new contract with the Predators after the season. Suter can do that, too. But, as the pending unrestricted free agent, time is more of the essence with him.

"Yes, I've certainly seen contractual situations bother a player, but I can tell you 100 percent that with Ryan, we can talk about his contract and the situation about the Predators and he can go on the ice and play," Poile said. "He has that ability. It's not affecting his play at all."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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