It’s official: ‘Canes sign Ruutu to four-year, $19 million deal

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Earlier, it was reported that Carolina GM Jim Rutherford had made an offer to impending UFA Tuomo Ruutu — an offer that expired today.

Now, it’s being reported that Ruutu put pen to paper before the clock struck midnight.

The 27-year-old Finn has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $19 million extension that will make him the team’s third highest-paid player next season — less than Eric Staal and Cam Ward, but more than Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason.

“We’re thankful Tuomo is staying with us. He’s an important building block for us in moving forward,” Rutherford said. “He’s an important player to our team. He’s the type of player that, long term, would be hard to replace.”

The most immediate ramification of the deal is it takes Ruutu off the market prior to Monday’s trade deadline. He was one of the more coveted players thought to be available and it should raise the value of other forwards being dealt.

Long term, well…it kind of skews the pay scale, doesn’t it? Ruutu’s an intriguing player because of his ability to score and play a physical game, but facts are facts — a guy that hasn’t topped 20 goals in any of his last three seasons is now making $4.75 million per.

More, from Luke DeCock of the News and Observer:

A $4.75 million forward on a cap team has to deliver more than intangibles. He has to deliver goals: At least 25 a year. Preferably 30-plus, although in Ruutu’s case he can compensate with other areas of his game. There’s no doubt about that.

That’s not asking too much of Ruutu. He’s capable. At one point, he was considered the best player in the world outside of the NHL. He would have been drafted much higher than ninth overall if not for a draft-year knee injury. He’s done it before, and if he stays healthy, there’s no reason he can’t do it again.

His new salary is a big number. The Hurricanes need big numbers from Ruutu in return.

Should be noted that, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, Ruutu had originally asked for a six-year deal, which Rutherford was loath to offer. As such, the ‘Canes GM gave Ruutu more money to compensate for shorter term.