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How to Keep Ruutu – Hurricanes Rebuild

Posted By Johnny G On Feb 11 2012 @ 8:29 pm In Carolina Hurricanes | No Comments

Last we heard, Jim Rutherford was hoping to sit down with pending UFA Tuomo Ruutu in hopes of finding common ground on their mutual future.

The discussion took place and many fans were pleased to find out that there is a mutual respect and interest in Ruutu staying in Carolina.

The next step, Rutherford admitted, is finding common ground on the money and terms.

Ruutu is 29 years old so this is not the last contract he will sign, though at this age it tends to be the most lucrative. This years salary is at $4.4 million and is his highest pay to date. The debate now becomes is he worth $5 million? He shows a cap hit currently of $3.8m which is comparible to many big names in the league. While Ruutu is loved and respected by many, not just in Carolina, around the league… is he worth that much?

An argument can be made that his ability to successfully play alongside Staal and Skinner up his value with the team quite a bit. He is a player that should be hitting 20-30 goals and 30+ assists, though falling short of that this season. His toughness is welcome on this team and he brings a ton of character to the lockeroom.

My main concern is that overpaying for him will hold down an already budget conscience team from being able to make further moves towards improving the team this summer.

Ruutu’s cap hit was $3.8, so to see his average salary increase to the $4.4 he is currently paid would be an adequate increase for him. To stay in Carolina Ruutu would not need to consider a ‘home-town discount’ but he would need to forgo the chance to test the market this summer.

If Ruutu is not re-signed before February 27th, his fans do not need to fear. Ruutu may likely then be traded to the highest offer as a rental. I am sure he would do Jim Rutherford the resspect, come July 1st, of hearing an offer to return to Carolina. It would be a gamble on both sides but it would not break the team if both parted ways.

Some have argued that Rutherford is staying the course with a cellar team. Signing Gleason and Ruutu, on the surface, would suggest that though one has to start out any idea of a rebuild or restructure at the top.

Muller has his coaching staff in place, with Staal and Ward as the foundation for the team. Young stars like Sutter, Skinner, Faulk and McBain show much promise for the future (and the present). That leaves the players to come in an build upon those strengths.

Gleason locks down the defense while Jokinen and Ruutu would give us a solid look to build upon our top six. Role players like Brent, Steward and LaRose help give the team energy and grit. The young stars coming out of Charlotte are the real wild cards in the futures equation. Dalpe, Samson, Dadonov, and others will really be looked at to be key pieces to future success. I feel several of those guys have proven their value but it will take an NHL level grind of 82 games for these players to really prove their long term worth.

The pieces are starting to unfold into place. I am not expecting major moves in the next two weeks. I am thinking we could see some interesting deals around the draft and into July. Rutherford hinted that a new media deal could see the teams budget increase for next season.

For a cap/trade geek like me… I am so excited for the possibilities!

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