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Canes aim to sign Ruutu for 2-3 years

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Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said today he hopes to lock up restricted free agent Tuomo Ruutu with a two- or three-year deal.

In a phone interview this morning, Rutherford also said the team was pursuing a couple of free agents to add depth to the team.

Rutherford declined to identify any of the players targeted by the Canes, but he said those deals could be completed as soon as today. Jason Karmanos, the team's executive director of hockey operations, was working on those possible deals.

Ruutu, who filed for arbitration this week, could reach terms with the Hurricanes before his hearing, which has not been scheduled, according to both Rutherford and Ruutu’s agent, Bill Zito, of Chicago-based Acme World Sports.

League-wide, arbitration hearings will begin July 20 and are scheduled to conclude before Aug. 1, Rutherford said.

"At this point, we haven’t been able to get to the number that everybody’s satisfied with," Rutherford said.

Zito, also reached by phone, declined to say how close the sides were, adding that "it's always preferable to settle before arbitration."

"I don’t see a lot of drama," Zito said. "If there's a way to get it settled and make everybody happy, I'm certain it will be explored. And if not, the arbitrator decides, and that's it. He wants to be there. I know they like him. He likes it there, the coaching staff, the organization, the fans and the lifestyle there. It’s a wonderful place."

Last year, forward Chad LaRose filed for arbitration but wound up signing a one-year deal for $875,000 before his hearing.

Ruutu, a physical player who scored a career-high 26 goals last season, figures to command much more than that. The restricted free agent made $2.25 million last season. He had 228 hits last season, ranking him 10th in the league in that category.

While Rutherford praised Ruutu’s physical game, his relative youth, a career year, and team mentality, he said the team still has to be cautious because of Ruutu's past injuries.

But how do you find the line with a player that the team needs to be physical?

"There probably isn't a line," Rutherford said. "For him to be effective, he has to continue playing the same way. Scaling it back, he's probably not as vulnerable to injuries, but he's not as effective."

Ruutu played only 15 games during his injury-shortened 2005-06 season with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, Zito pointed out that Ruutu missed only three regular season games and two playoff games last season. The last three years, he played at least 71 games a season.

"Other than that, he hasn't missed any substantial amount of time," Zito said. "I wouldn't call him injury prone."

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Getting it done

While we fans can and will "speculate our booties off" We just have to wait and see what happens if at all. And if we fans are NOW just hearing from Ruutu's agent, trust me...He doesn't want to go to arbitration. So using the style and format the " press & the tabloids use", There could or might, or there is a strong possibility be movement, in finding some potential middle ground that both sides of the table could, would or might be seriously considering. And speaking of the press...Hey Javier...Is Chip on Vacation ? Not that we, the fans just have to positively,absolutely, just gotta know mind you...
But out of good manners we was asking...
Go Canes !!

A deal similar to Cole's??

Seems like a deal similar to Cole's should get this done. They seem like comparable players to me. Cole has a bit more finish to his game, or at least did, but that's mitigated by the injury issues. Ruutu plays hard all the time and hits hard and consistently. 2 years @ 3 per or possibly an escalating deal for 3 years say 3, 3.25, 3.5.

Contract Term

Very rarely will an RFA sign for a long term (unless that RFA happens to be a perennial Hart Trophy nominee, or at least of that calibre ;^). There's not much incentive for the player to sign anything that would go beyond his UFA eligibility. Ruutu also has an injury history, so as much as we like him, there's risk in a long term commitment on the part of the team as well.

Contract Term

Your points are valid.  However, on the flip side, Ruutu's injury history presents a risk to him as well, along with the uncertainty of the cap situation next year and the possibility of less money available to sign UFAs.  So IMO there's some incentive for him to get a couple more years guaranteed if the numbers are decent.  

Get Ruutu signed already !

I agree that the Canes needs to lock him up for a few years or he'll be gone, but I agree cautiously. It's always a risk, like signing Cole to the 3x 4 mil a few years ago, but really the team has to roll the dice. If Ruutu is healthy he will contribute, that is a given.

If we lose him...

I really hope not, because we'll have to sign a consistant 30 goal scorer and an enforcer.

Sign the Finn, JR!

Ever since he hit the ice running in his first game he's made a huge impact to the team. From the last minute flight, to hitting the ice as Katherine was wrapping up the "Star Spangled Banner," to the huge check during his first shift, to the stick across the face, he's got me on the Ruuuuuu wagon. I hope we can keep him and I hope he can maintain what he's shown so far.

You get what you pay ...

Ruutu plays kind of game that comes with some additional risks, he knows it, everyone around knows it. This is how you want him to play, this is what you want out of him. They better find the number that satisfy him because there are probably many teams hoping to snatch him with 3-3,5 offer. You let him go unrestricted, he is as good as gone.

Ruutu pound for pound hits

Ruutu pound for pound hits as hard as anyone in the NHL, he is fearless and the guy is worth every penny he makes compared to some of these floaters around the league that just collect a paycheck. Ruutu will be back for sure...$3.5 a season seems about right.

Doubtful

Closer to $3mil., with the cap staying the same (pretty much) and most players taking less money for longer term deals it does not seem likely that we'll sign him for that much. My guess is $2.75mil. for 3 years.

my guess ...

is that Tuomo is asking for $3mil x 3 Years and offer on table is $2.75mil (x 2 or 3 years) He will get $3-$3.5mil elsewhere if his status goes unrestricted, there WILL be takers.

Sounds Close

Doesn't sound like either party wants to go to arbitration, so a deal sounds imminent. Arbitration usually hurts the relationship between players and mgmt., especially after the team discredits & devalues the player, which always happens. I am very curious to see who we are courting at this point for free agents, within our budget there's not a lot of good players left. Just a guess, but if it's a forward salary range would be league min. - $1mil; if it's a dman range would have to be $1mil - $1.5mil. I think it's still possible that we can make a trade, there's a handful of teams that need to dump salary and have good players to offer.

Ruutu

It's obviously preferable to have the Hurricanes and Ruutu reach an agreement before arbitration. Ruutu is a critical part of the Hurricanes success; but it is also true that Ruutu's take no prisoners approach carries the risk that he could be subject to injury. It's only one consideration among many that Jim Rutherford has to factor into the equation. Ruutu has enormous potential and has proven himself to be a key player. In the end, both sides have valid points to make; but its seems beyond debate that Ruutu needs to be re-signed and hopefully for three years. I would not be surprised at all to see Ruutu find another level of performance this upcoming year.

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About the blogger

Javier Serna has covered sports for The News & Observer since 2007. He previously covered growth for the North Raleigh News, and sports at The Truth in Elkhart, Ind. E-mail Javier.
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