‘There was no point in waiting’: Pius Suter was sold quickly on Red Wings

Detroit News

Detroit — New Red Wings forward Pius Suter remembers playing occasionally with Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, his new teammates and former linemates in junior hockey in Guelph.

Suter’s eyes kind of lit up thinking about it, actually.

“We played a few games together,” Suter said during Thursday’s media Zoom call, a day after signing with Detroit on the first day of NHL free-agency. “We had one really good game, the three of us. We had one really, really good game. We scored a few goals together.”

If the trio can recapture that kind of magic once in a while, the Wings will be happy.

The Wings signed Suter, an unrestricted free agent, Wednesday to a two-year contract worth $6.5 million ($3.25-million cap hit).

At 25, Suter (5-foot-11, 176-pounds) fits well into the rebuilding, maturing Wings’ lineup. And Suter feels good about joining the Wings, after being abruptly let go by Chicago, which didn’t qualify the restricted free agent, thereby making Suter a UFA.

“A little bit, I was surprised,” Suter said of being essentially let go by Chicago after scoring 14 goals and 13 assists, and earning some Calder Cup (rookie of the year) consideration. “You get a feeling when you talk during the off season, and I knew it might happen (not being qualified). I didn’t think much about it, (otherwise) it maybe would have been less of a surprise.

“But it happened and it went pretty quick, not being qualified and free-agency starting quick, and it was nice there was a lot of interest. It means I did something right the last few years.

“The situation (in Chicago) didn’t work out but I’m happy to be in Detroit.”

First off, Suter is happy to be reacquainted with Bertuzzi and Fabbri.

“I haven’t talked to them (since signing) but for sure it’s exciting, it’s always nice to know people (on a new team),” Suter said. “We played against each other last year.

“We’d see each other in the hallway and quickly exchange a few words.

“For sure it brings back good memories from junior (hockey) time.”

Suter feels the Wings have a promising future, which appealed to him. And having scored a hat trick against the Wings early last season (Jan. 24), well, at this point it does produce mixed emotions.

“It worked out well to play against them, sorry about that,” Suter said, smiling sheepishly. “It’s a good team. Quick, a lot of younger guys. There are some real good players.

“In my situation, with my age, and goal with ice time, and keep going what I started (last season), Detroit was a team for sure on my mind, and it’s nice to be here.”

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Suter, the way the roster is shaping up, slots in nicely into a second-line center role — maybe even with Fabbri and Bertuzzi.

Getting major minutes, with that sort of responsibility, would make Suter happy.

“For sure, that should be my goal,” Suter said. “There’s training camp and the games, and you have to perform and make sure the coach gives you a chance, and I have to prove myself.

“But definitely, that’s a goal in my mind.”

The fact Suter became a UFA Wednesday spurred a lot of interest around the NHL.

“I took it as a compliment,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to make a decision on the first day and didn’t want to wait too long as I originally thought (Suter would, or expected to wait).

“There was no point in waiting (to make a choice).”

Suter returned to Switzerland after his junior career was over, and developed as a player. His best season, playing for Zurich SC in the Swiss League, saw Suter put up 53 points, including 30 goals, catching the attention of the Blackhawks.

“With the (rebuilding) situation in Detroit and age, my goal is to get good ice time and keep going off what I started,” he said. “Grow as the team grows, and it’s a mutual benefit.”

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ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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