Could The Blackhawks Be Interested In Tuomo Ruutu?

By Randy Holt

There’s very little doubt that the Blackhawks are going to be among the NHL’s more active teams when the trade deadline rolls around next month.

Among the list of needs for the Blackhawks are a defenseman and a center, the latter of which they could use on that second line in particular.

Plenty of names have already been thrown out there. With the Anaheim Ducks basically announcing that their three big names are available, Ryan Getzlaf was one of those names. Rick Nash from Columbus will also see his name floating around in rumors up until the deadline.

But one name that has been quietly roaming around the rumor mill is that of former Hawk Tuomu Ruutu.

Ruutu played most of his first four seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he’s been since. The Blackhawks netted Andrew Ladd in that trade, which seemed to work out pretty well in 2009-2010, eh?

His 14 goals are tops on a very poor Hurricanes squad, and his 23 points in 44 games are good for third on the team, behind their two stars Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner.

Obviously Ruutu wouldn’t be the first choice for most to hold down the second line, but he is capable of playing the position. He hasn’t done as much work in the middle this year, but was third on the team with almost 650 draws taken in 2010-2011. His faceoff percentage wasn’t pretty, but he’d be an upgrade over Patrick Kane or Michael Frolik there, from that point of view.

Ruutu could add a gritty, physical presence to that line, as he has 78  hits in those 44 games this year. He had 309 in 82 last season. His combination of skill and grit would be a welcome presence on that line.

It would likely work out from a numbers standpoint as well. Ruutu has a $3.8 million salary, but is set to become a free agent at the end of this year. That definitely fits the bill as the type of player the Hawks are hoping to acquire, at least financially.

In the end, it’s probably a pretty unlikely scenario, but the Hawks are sure to be talking to the Hurricanes in the coming weeks, whether it’s related to Ruutu or a guy like Tim Gleason. Nonetheless, he’s one name to keep in mind as the trade deadline begins to draw near, and rumors begin to run rampant.

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