Season over for Tuomo Ruutu, Cam Ward set to return

truutu.jpgYears ago when much of the energy I currently spend blogging was once spent obsessing over fantasy hockey, Tuomo Ruutu was very much on my radar as a Chicago Blackhawk. The hype was that Ruutu had that rare blend of power (aka the ability to take a lot of penalties, which is good in the alternate universe that is fantasy hockey) and scoring.

Naturally, though, only bad things could happen to such a player in the pre-Kane, “Dollar Bill” Wirtz era and that’s what often happened to Ruutu. His 2005-06 season was particularly difficult as he only managed to play in 15 games.

Then again, he has been pretty healthy lately (despite the fact that he typically takes just as much as he dishes out) and seemed like he turned his career around since being traded from the Blackhawks to the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Finnish ruffian will have to wait until next season to continue his maturation because he’ll miss the rest of the 2009-10 campaign thanks to shoulder surgery, according to USA Today.

Coach Paul Maurice said after practice Wednesday that forward Tuomo Ruutu will have season-ending shoulder surgery on Thursday but that injured goalie Cam Ward could return within a week.

Ruutu initially injured his right shoulder during a fight with Colorado’s Darcy Tucker on Jan. 8. The physical forward missed 15 games and fought the injury even after his return, Maurice said, adding that in recent games against Phoenix and Boston, “I thought he was trying to hit everything that moved.”

As you can see, the good news is that goalie Cam Ward looks set to return soon. Of course, that won’t really matter much this year since it’s probably already too late for (another) miracle playoff run in Carolina.

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    Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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    Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

    Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

    The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

    Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

    Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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    John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

    Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

    Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

    A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

    McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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    Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

    Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

    Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

    McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

    It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

    Update:

    Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

    Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

    The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

    Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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    Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

    Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

    London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

    “When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

    “He does everything for us.”

    Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.