Tuomo Ruutu, a top potential trade target for playoff bound teams this season, agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, keeping the forward from reaching free agency this summer. The deal is reportedly for an average of $4.75 million per season.
"Players like Tuomo are extremely difficult to replace," Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said in a team statement on Wednesday. "We are very happy that he has committed to what we are building here, and (that he) is excited about what the future holds for the Hurricanes."
Ruutu, a former first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, has been a central piece to the Hurricanes success over the past four seasons. The 29-year-old forward arguably had the best year of his career last season, when he posted 19-38-57 totals while playing in all 82 games.
So far this season, Ruutu has found his fair share of success while also falling on some tough times as well. He's scored 17 goals and dished out 13 assists in 57 games so far this season and was well on his way to another career year before running into a few speed bumps.
Ruutu fell into a bit of a scoring drought over the last month, scoring a grand total of just four points in his past 12 games. He has also missed Carolina's last three games and is expected to be out for another few, due to an upper body injury suffered in a game in Montreal on Feb. 13.
The signing is big news for the Hurricanes, who are currently last in the Eastern Conference, as Ruutu will likely serve as a block to build around for the future of the franchise.