Detroit Red Wings: The curious case of Pius Suter and what to do

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings have a decision to make regarding forward Pius Suter in the coming months; it doesn’t seem nearly as apparent as it once did.

Suter, 26, is a pending unrestricted free agent this summer and, for the better part of the 2022-23 season, seemed like a player that would be looking for real estate in a new city come July. After a very productive late-season surge, I am not so sure anymore. A couple of months ago, I suggested that the Detroit Red Wings move on from Suter, and then he caught fire. Isn’t that how it often goes? I guess Suter should consider sending me a thank you card.

Suter brings an abundance of versatility to the Detroit Red Wings lineup. Head coach Derek Lalonde can slot Suter in at center or wing. He’s become a reliable two-way forward that can play up and down the lineup.

The Detroit Red Wings must make a difficult decision regarding Pius Suter.

Although Suter never lived up to his overall expectations since joining the Red Wings, he’s become a nice, reliable utility piece during five-on-five play, and he’s become an effective penalty killer. He can fill in on the second power-play unit when necessary.

When Steve Yzerman initially signed Suter to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million ahead of the 2021-22 season, he was expected to be slotted in as the team’s second-line center. Sure, sliding a player with just one season of NHL experience in behind captain Dylan Larkin and hoping to get the production of a bona fide second center is a bit of a stretch. Suter signed with Detroit after a solid first season with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he scored 14 goals and totaled 27 points over 55 games.

Oddly, Suter, a restricted free agent, was not tendered a contract from the dreadful Blackhawks, in turn making him a UFA. In his two seasons with the Red Wings, Suter has been the model of consistency, recording 15 goals and 36 points over 82 games in year one. He’d follow that up with 14 goals and 24 points over 79 games this past season. Suter also played about three minutes less per night from his first season with Detroit to his second.

There are a couple of concerning metrics from this past season. Suter maintained a 45.5% Corsi For Percentage and a -0.9 Relative Corsi For Percengate during even strength situations; both were a career worst. Suter’s 1.3 points and 5.7 shots per 60 minutes this past season also came in as career lows, plus -16.8 Corsi Per 60 minutes in all situations is also less than desirable. On that last stat, Suter maintained a -7.1 last season and -0.4 the year prior with the Blackhawks.

The slight dip in production is likely due to playing in more of a depth role this past season skating primarily on Detroit’s fourth line. Suter will likely be looking at a $3-3.5 million average annual value on his next deal.

Next. 3 bold trade targets for this off-season. dark

Let’s call a spade a spade. Whether the Detroit Red Wings re-sign Suter or not won’t make or break the franchise but having a reliable player that can excel in a checking role and be productive as a top-six winger shouldn’t be taken for granted. Detroit needs solid players, and although retaining Suter is anything but a priority this summer, it wouldn’t be the worst idea.