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Mike Maniscalco

Rutherford: Signing Ruutu is a priority

Posted February 9, 2012

— With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, the Carolina Hurricanes are rumored to be the team most involved with moving players to other teams, with the biggest prize being Tuomo Ruutu.

The Canes leading goal scorer has been linked to several teams in trade talks, but I just spoke with General Manager Jim Rutherford who told me that, “signing Tuomo is a priority.”

The Canes already made the marketplace tighter by re-signing defenseman Tim Gleason.

“Look at the teams last few unrestricted free agents, you have to look at where they will be with contracts that are three or four years long,” Rutherford said. “You have to look at age and where the players are in their careers.”

Ruutu is approaching his 29th birthday and has told me on numerous occasions how much he enjoys playing in Raleigh. The Vantaa, Finland native has played in 286 games with Carolina, amassing 80 goals,105 assists for 185 points in four-plus seasons.

That doesn’t mean it is guaranteed that the Hurricanes will re-sign their UFA’s as Rutherford pointed out. “Obviously there is a line to what it will cost us,” he said.

Carolina is also looking to improve, as the GM has reiterated several times. The organization is looking for one more player to team up with Eric Staal, and how the team has been performing under Kirk Muller, it leads him to believe the team is closer to needing that than going in a different direction.

As we get closer to the Feb. 27 deadline, Rutherford thinks teams that are looking to improve might want to do it now.

“If I was buying, I would want to get a deal done earlier if possible,” Rutherford said. “If a team is selling, I’d try to take it closer to the deadline.”

There is no denying that the Canes have played better hockey since Jan. 1, and that is something that has not been ignored by the front office.

“We play more together as a 5-man or 6-man unit and have had a very consistent work ethic,” Rutherford said. “It is a team that likes each other and likes playing the game together.”

Of course, things can change. If another team makes a tremendous offer, it is hard to turn down deals that can improve your club for the long haul. But unlike some of the free agents that have left the past few seasons, this year appears to be different. I don’t expect the Canes to sit idly by at the deadline, but the announcements might be more about who is staying rather than who is leaving.

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  • ericevenson Feb 10, 9:14 p.m.

    Going forward and looking at the next 5 years, Ruutu will get even better, and be one of our experienced leaders, on a young, fast team.

  • PanthersFan45 Feb 10, 6:19 p.m.

    I've liked Ruutu ever since the trade with Chicago for Anrew Ladd. I'll never forget his 1st game as a Cane and he had stitches that nearly shut his eye completely ..... and he managed to play the next game too !! He works hard and isn't a quitter. I've felt over the last few years that its been a close vote between him and Chad LaRose for scrappiest player on the team.

  • Zaknow Feb 10, 11:03 a.m.

    I hope he can be resigned if that is truly whats best for the Canes. The money will determine a lot of what can be done.

  • StunGunn Feb 10, 8:20 a.m.

    I don't feel as optimistic abot The Canes keeping Ruutu after listening to Chuck Caiton on the Adam and Joe show yesterday. Chuck pointed out that after the Gleason deal, also locking up Staal and Ward, etc. there may not be enough $$$ to keep Ruutu, especially since a lot of teams have expressed interest and may make JR an offer he won't refuse. I'm afraid Rutherford may go in a different direction again. I still hate that JR let Erik Cole walk, and he may do just the same with Ruutu.

  • babedan Feb 9, 5:57 p.m.

    As for trading Ruutu, If we can get a young top six forward who can score 30 plus goals a season, I'd trade him in a second. I like Ruutu too, but this attitude of not getting rid of players because we like them to make the team better is getting old. Ruutu while a good player is just that a 50 point player. We need more to 6 forwards not 6-9 forwards on this team.

  • babedan Feb 9, 5:53 p.m.

    Watching Erik Cole walk on him last season really shook JR up. Signs Gleason and now talking about Ruutu? I guess he doesn't want players walking out of Carolina when after the season is over. For someone who always made it a policy never to negotiate during the season, His tune changed and we can point to Erik Cole for changing that attitude.

  • jazzmanjim Feb 9, 5:43 p.m.

    I think we will be hearing about this soon. Ruutu has been one of our key players for a while now, but this year has been very good for him. He is gutsy,doesn't back away from a hit, is scoring on a consistent basis, and brings it every night. I like him playing with Skinner more myself, but I think he has helped Staal with his game as well.

    Sign him.

  • StunGunn Feb 9, 5:23 p.m.

    Yessss! This is great news. I'm encouraged that JR recognizes Ruut's value to the team. Now, I have to hope and pray that other teams don't make JR "an offer he can't refuse".

  • ajoplin Feb 9, 3:50 p.m.

    Uh.....yeah

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