Among all the off-season discussions concerning the Hurricanes, Tuomo Ruutu has been somewhat of an afterthought. With all of the hype surrounding the defense, Jeff Skinner and the bottom-six, it's easy to see why but Ruutu's still an important part of this team and the Hurricanes are going to need him to be healthy in order to be competitive in this new division. Ruutu's often thought of as a physical player and while he is effective in that department, he also possesses a lot of skill and has produced at a top-six level for most of his career. His physical presence is important, but I think the Hurricanes missed his offense more than anything last year and it will be great to have him back in the lineup.
The question is whether or not Ruutu can be effective as he once was. He is only 30 years old, but is coming off two hip surguries within the past year. Couple that with the fact that forwards tend to see their production drop as they get older and it's fair to expect Ruutu to take a step back next season. Although, there were no indications of him slowing down when he got on the ice last year. Hip surgery limited Ruutu to only 17 games last year but he was very, very good in those games, recording nine points and scoring at a top-six rate yet again. He was especially good towards the end of the season once he began to get more ice-time and the Hurricanes will hope they can get that Ruutu for at least 50-60 games this year.
Assuming that Ruutu stays healthy, can he produce at the levels the Hurricanes are used to seeing from him? We already know how important Ruutu is to the team's scoring depth, but how many points should the Hurricanes expect from him this year? We'll explore that issue and more after the jump.no comments