Weber or Suter?
Will Ryan Suter and Shea Weber both return to Nashville next season? (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Weber or Suter?
In the wake of the Nashville Predators second-round exit from the playoffs, the futures of all-star defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter remain uncertain.
Suter, a pending unrestricted free agent, acknowledged that he met briefly with Predators GM David Poile, but said he wanted to take a couple of weeks to unwind before starting up contract negotiations.
The 27-year-old blueliner also indicated he wanted to finish his career with whichever team he signs with, so expect his next contract - be it with the Predators or somewhere else - to be long-term.
Given the circumstances, it's natural to assume Suter will seek a deal of 10 years or longer.
Ten-year contracts are possible under the current CBA, but it's believed term limits - perhaps no longer than five years - will try to be imposed by the NHL in the next labour agreement. So, if Suter hopes for a contract that keeps him in one place for many years, he should get it signed this summer.
If Suter hits the open market July 1, it's believed the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild will be among the clubs pursuing him.
WHAT ABOUT WEBER?
As for Weber, he's a restricted free agent eligible for UFA status in 2013.
If the Predators decide they can only retain one of the two and re-sign Suter, it's rumored they’ll shop Weber this summer.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province envisioned a scenario where the Predators would be unable to re-sign Weber to a long-term extension and decide to move him.
Botchford mused over what it would take for the Canucks to land the B.C.-born Weber and acknowledged it wouldn't be easy.
RADULOV NOT SO RADICAL
Weber and Suter aren't the only Predators to be grist for the rumor mill.
Right winger Alexander Radulov's highly publicized team-imposed suspension midway through the series against the Phoenix Coyotes has many observers believing he's played his last game for the Predators.
Radulov's restricted free agent status raises questions over whether Poile will decline to qualify his rights, thus making him an unrestricted free agent or qualify his rights and attempt to trade him. Radulov could also simply return to the Kontinental League.
John Manasso of FoxSports Tennessee suggested that packaging Radulov with a promising asset such as backup goalie Anders Lindback would fetch a strong return and wondered if Poile could swing a deal to land Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If Penguins GM Ray Shero were to shop Staal, he would want a better return than Radulov, who has yet to fully prove himself as a star at the NHL level. Since the Penguins blueline corps was considered one reason for their early playoff elimination this spring, Shero would likely seek a top-two defenseman.
WHO WANTS PANCAKES?
Los Angeles Kings left winger Dustin Penner struggled throughout the regular season, but has regained his scoring touch (seven points in nine games) in his team's march to the Western Conference final.
His post-season performance will improve his value as an unrestricted free agent come July 1.
Ottawa Sun scribe Don Brennan says it wouldn't be surprising if Senators GM Bryan Murray signs Penner, citing the fact Murray, when he was GM of the Anaheim Ducks, signed the undrafted winger to his first NHL contract, in 2004.
Brennan believes Penner, who earned $4.25 million this season, will have to accept considerably less salary in this summer's free agent market and says if Penner is willing to sign for $1.5 million the Senators should consider it.
Penner has four 20-plus-goal seasons on his resume, including a career-best 32 goals and 63 points with the Edmonton Oilers in 2009-10.
At 29, he could have a few productive years left, though his streaky scoring is a concern. Anyone signing Penner shouldn't expect him to reach 30 goals and 60 points again.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.