I’m a Tuomo Ruutu fan. He’s the type of player who won’t always put up points for you but plays the game with an edge. I can understand why playoff teams would want a depth player like him, even though he only has 16 games of playoff experience, all of them coming from 2009. He can score in tough traffic areas and he’s a good enough skater. He’s the antithesis of brother Jarkko. And he’s also not worth $5 million a season.
Ruutu’s a 25-goal, 55-point goal scorer at best. That’s not bad, but he’s not that consistent and if you’ve got a team that’s already good at scoring goals like the Leafs (171 GF, 4th in East), it’s not a very wise investment. Last year, Ruutu finished with 19 goals and a career-high 57 points. Two other players last year finished with 19 goals and at least 50 points as well: teammate Jussi Jokinen and Ville Leino, when he was with Philadelphia.
Jokinen’s $3 million cap hit is reasonable, and you think he might stand to make a teensy bit more because he’s so valuable in the shootout. Leino’s getting paid $6 million this year with a $4.5 million cap hit, and we can all agree that at some point, when a new CBA is negotiated and teams are given a freebie buyout, Leino’s gonna get a swift kick out the door. Ruutu’s a $4 million player, more like Dubinsky, Hartnell, or Fisher, and less like Kesler, Ribeiro, or Plekanec.
Even the price tag for simply acquiring Ruutu, a first rounder and a top prospect, is pretty absurd. At that price I should be fishing for a rental better than Ruutu. If the market is that junk, then there’s even less incentive to make that trade. They’d be mortgaging a pretty good chunk of their future for a player who doesn’t have a high ceiling.
If you pay that price but aren’t serious about committing $5 million a season to Ruutu for the next 2-4 years, then why bother anyway? You end up losing three valuable assets (pick, prospect, Ruutu) for the chance to win another round. I hardly think that a mid-level team like the Leafs or Preds would count on Ruutu to carry the team into the next round. Even teams like the Pens or Hawks, who are deep, can spare some young players, and have a legitimate shot at the Cup, would be turned off by that extension.
I think Jim Rutherford wants to keep Ruutu, which is why the price is so high. Rutherford’s listening, but unless something that really makes sense comes his way (say, a swap for a young defenceman or high pick), he won’t pull the trigger. If the Hurricanes are serious about dealing Ruutu, the price tag would be much more reasonable, like a second-round pick and a decent prospect, so that more teams can have a shot at him.
I don’t believe the Hurricanes are real sellers – I think if their high demands aren’t met they’re more than willing to keep what they have. They can afford to do this because they have three additional picks in the first five rounds of this year’s draft, one in the second from San Jose (Ian White trade), and two in the fourth from the Bruins and Devils.