Rutherford: Signing Ruutu is a priority
Posted February 9, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.