Canes general manager Jim Rutherford had never negotiated a new contract with a player during a season until this season.
Now, he might do it again.
Rutherford, who recently signed defenseman Tim Gleason to a four-year contract extension, said Monday he would be holding "an important meeting" with forward Tuomo Ruutu this week during the Canes' three-game road trip. Ruutu is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford said. "We'll talk about that and see where it goes. We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision.
"I've had casual conversations with his agent the past month or so. The next step is to meet with (Ruutu) and make a decision on what direction would be the best for everyone."
Ruutu, who turns 29 on Feb. 16, is believed to be seeking a long-term contract. He leads the Canes this season in goals (16) and is fourth in points (27).
Ruutu, a physical forward, could be a key addition to teams looking to bring in "rental" players to help reach the playoffs or strengthen their teams for the playoffs.