If Tampa Bay is not going to have any big names or stars on the blue line then they need to be sure their third defensive pairing is going to be at the same talent level as their first. Tallying a total of 19 goals between ten defensemen is pathetic.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a few solid players at the blue line but that’s all these guys are is solid at best. Their top defenseman is Marc Andre Bergeron who in 43 games this season only scored four goals and the team’s highest scoring blue-liner was Bruno Gervais who only had six goals.
Granted your defensemen aren’t known to be the scorers on the team but that separates teams who are competing for the Stanley Cup and teams out on the beach or golf course because their season ended early.
The Lightning weren’t keeping their opponents guessing where the shot was coming from or may score because they knew it would be Steven Stamkos or another forward.
Who better to fill this role than Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators? He has been a big part in one of the toughest defenses in the NHL and at the end of the post-season the 27-year old will be a free agent.
Suter isn’t the cheapest with a cap hit of 3.5 million dollars but he’s well worth it. He’s talented enough to base a defensive core around and he’s young enough to make it last for years to come.
This season he scored seven goals and added an additional 39 assists to make him the 11th highest scoring defenseman in the NHL.
Also after working with defensemen like Shea Weber and Hal Gill he can also show that he knows how to play aggressively in a legal matter and has the knowledge to be the assistant captain and run the defense in way that will keep pucks away from their goalie.
A reliable defense is one of the most important parts of a team in hockey. A good defense can keep shots away from a tired goaltender resulting in fewer goals against as well as moving the puck more fluently setting up their offense for more goal opportunities.
Suter is currently proving this theory in the playoffs as the Predators knocked out the always-dangerous Detroit Red Wings in five games. Four of those games were decided by only one goal and the other Nashville won by two.
The Predators never let up more than two goals in a playoff game and keeping the opponent’s score low makes the job of winning easier on everyone on the team.
If one can imagine what kind of threat Tampa Bay would become with a star forward like Steven Stamkos and a two-way defenseman like Ryan Suter the possibilities would be end-less for the Lightning.