Suter Leaving Wisconsin for Pros

Defenseman Ryan Suter will sign a contract with the Nashville Predators and forgo his final three years of eligibility at Wisconsin, The Capital Times of Madison reported Wednesday.

Suter, a WCHA third-team and all-rookie selection last season, was Nashville’s first-round pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, selected seventh overall.

It was believed that the only way Suter, 19, would leave school is if he was presented with a maximum rookie contract offer from the Predators. That’s what he’ll get: $620,000 with a $620,000 signing bonus this year; $620,000 next season and $1.24 million in the third year of the contract, assuming he plays in the NHL.

“Ryan is happy, this is what he wants to do — but he feels bad that he’s doing it so late,” Suter’s father, Bobby, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, told the newspaper. “I’m bothered by the same things he is; about leaving all the friends that he made. But they say it’s part of the game, part of growing up, and the next step.”

Suter is expected to receive the contract Wednesday.

Last season, he had three goals and 19 points while providing a steadying influence on the Badgers’ blue line.

Contract talks between the Suters and the Predators had been slow all season, and Bobby Suter at one time voiced his frustration with the process. The contract offer came more than three months after a quasi-deadline set by Bobby Suter to speed up negotiations.

“It was kind of in the back of my mind that something was going to happen, because that’s how teams operate, they take you to the limit,” Bobby Suter told the newspaper. “Nashville has money issues. With the prospect of a lockout or work stoppage, why would they take a kid when maybe they’re looking at playing only a half of a season? Especially when they can save money.”

A new NHL collective bargaining agreement is expected to reduce the size of rookie contracts, perhaps by $400,000 a year.

Suter is the second WCHA player to sign a high-profile contract in a week, following Buffalo’s maximum contract offer to Minnesota forward Thomas Vanek.

Meanwhile, Ryan MacMurchy, the Badgers’ leading returning scorer, has been suspended by the UW athletic department for violating its student-athlete discipline policy last Sunday. No further details were released.

MacMurchy, who had 15 goals and 28 points last season, can appeal the decision. If he doesn’t, he must sit out practices and games until any and all charges have been addressed by the legal system and/or any applicable university or departmental disciplinary process, according to the school.