Early on in January, before there was any hope of a season actually taking place, Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu underwent hip surgery. That surgery was expected to keep him out until May. That doesn’t look to be the case anymore.
Ruutu has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the last several days and looks like he is already nearing a return, despite that initially grim expectation that he’d be out until late in the spring.
But it could be any game now that we see Ruutu return to the ice. And while they don’t necessarily need too much help in the offensive end, as they’re one of the league’s best at putting the puck in the net, the style of play that Ruutu brings to the ice is one that will be welcome.
When Ruutu does return to the lineup, he’ll likely be put back into the top six immediately, likely joining Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal on the second line. Ruutu isn’t going to bring the type of scoring that each of Skinner and Staal do, but he’ll bring a different element: physicality.
Though he’s a guy capable of putting in 20 or so goals in a season, Ruutu is such an effective player because he can be a contributor on offense while bringing as physical a game as this Canes team has on their roster. He had 151 hits in 72 games last season.
Ruutu is quietly one of the game’s better two-way forwards. He’ll be a contributor on offense, but should help out the Hurricanes’ struggling defensive game. Getting him back should be a terrific addition as the Hurricanes prepare to head into the home stretch.