The Detroit Red Wings should shy away from extending forward Pius Suter

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Following a hectic NHL trade deadline, Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings still have a few decisions to make as they continue to build for the future.

Pius Suter, 26, has not performed like a second-line center the Red Wings hoped he would when they signed him to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million ahead of the 2021-22 season. Suter joined the Detroit Red Wings after posting a very solid first season with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he totaled 14 goals and 27 points over 55 games as a rookie.

The Detroit Red Wings had an immediate need (and still do) for a second-line center to complement Dylan Larkin. Suter stepped into the role and provided Detroit with an ok first season, posting career bests across the board. Suter scored 15 goals and accounted for 36 points over 82 games while playing nearly 17 minutes per night. That production came primarily while skating as a top-six forward. Steve Yzerman went to the well again this summer, looking to fill the role by signing free agent Andrew Copp to a lucrative five-year deal averaging $5.6 million per season. Copp has been underwhelming for Detroit and is better suited as a third-line center leaving the Red Wings in another precarious position heading into the summer.

The Detroit Red Wings should look to upgrade their depth in free agency this summer.

As you can see above, according to Shayna Goldman and Dom Luszczyszyn, who makes up these useful player cards for The Athletic, Suter isn’t living up to his contract.

Suter’s numbers have dipped considerably this season, but he’s skating as Detroit’s fourth-line center, a role that suits him better than being pressed into a top-six role. Suter plays just over 13 minutes per night while posting a Corsi For Percentage of 45.0 and a -1.0 Relative Corsi For Percentage during even strength situations, which are all career lows. Suter’s 1.4 points per 60 minutes and 0.31 points per game are also career lows.

Through 59 games this season, Suter has recorded 11 goals and 18 points. Most of Suter’s production came on Detroit’s most recent west coast road trip, where he scored five goals in five games plus netted a shootout winner over the Edmonton Oilers.

Here’s what it looks like splitting Suter’s year into two halves to date. Over the first 30 games of the season, Suter was a minus-2, averaging just under 13 minutes per night, and scored four goals totaling nine points. Over the past 29 games, Suter has netted seven goals, tallied nine points, and is a minus -2, averaging just over 13 minutes per night.

Suter does bring some versatility to the lineup with his ability to play center or the wing, but I believe the Detroit Red Wings need to exhaust their options to look for a more impactful fourth-liner, whether it’s with their energy, physicality, or scoring.

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If nothing materializes in free agency, I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing Suter back on a one-year deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million per season. Still, I believe there is a reason he began the season as a healthy scratch.