Restricted free agent Tuomo Ruutu accepted his qualifying offer and is now under contract for this season at $2.25 million.
This is not an unexpected development; the Canes and Ruutu were in negotiations over a long-term deal that in all likelihood would have saved the Canes some money this season, but the path of least resistance for both sides was for Ruutu to accept his QO and worry about the rest down the road.
were are due to restricted free agents today Wednesday. The Canes did not plan to qualify minor-league goalie Kevin Nastiuk. I'll check and see if there was anyone else cut loose. (That could include David Tanabe and Jeff Hamilton, who should clear waivers in about eight minutes.)
UPDATE, 12:40 p.m.: Tanabe and Hamilton have cleared waivers, so the Hurricanes are now free to initiate the buyout process with both.
As for what this contract means for Ruutu's trade status, I don't think it changes anything. He may even be a more attractive commodity now that he's under contract.
Remember, one of the reasons the Canes have considered moving him was because they were concerned about not having a long-term deal in place — and they don't. So I'd say he's still a possibility to be moved.
UPDATE, 4:18 p.m.: Ruutu's agent, Bill Zito, said the 25-year-old forward is excited about coming back to Carolina.
"He’s real happy there," Zito said "Sometimes guys need a fresh start, probably like anybody else in life. It's weird how just really a change of scenery sometimes can get a guy going and get him his confidence."
Ruutu had 11 points in 17 games with the Canes after arriving in a trade-deadline deal for Andrew Ladd.
Zito, who also represents Hamilton, said he didn't expect any issues with that buyout, but the Tanabe buyout could get complicated.
His agent, Neil Sheehy, said: "Carolina has started the process for a buyout. We'll have to enforce David’s rights under the CBA."
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged that Tanabe has not received a clean bill of health: "If there are issues from an injury point of view, that's something that we'll have to take under consideration."