The Carolina Hurricanes can’t score to save themselves.
That was evident again Monday night against the Boston Bruins. Trailing 2-1, they have an extended 5-on-3 power play. They did not score while managing just one shot, by Chris Terry with just one second left in the two-man advantage.
The Hurricanes went on to lose 4-1, getting only an accidental goal from Tuomo Ruutu. They really missed injured forwards Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, since coach Kirk Muller had to start Ruutu and Drayson Bowman with top center Eric Staal.
Talking about wasting an elite talent . . .
The good news: Skinner is close to returning. He went through the morning skate but sat out another game
The bad news: Semin, injured Saturday night in St. Louis, may be out a while. Muller declined to offer detail on his injury while further tests were pending. That is never a good sign.
Carolina has just eight victories in 21 games. Fortunately they play in the Eastern Conference, where it is difficult to fall completely out of the playoff race.
But the Hurricanes could die out by the Olympic break if they don’t fix this offense.
The abbreviated NHL season hasn’t ever begun the Carolina Hurricanes already suffered a major injury hit.
Gritty forward Tuomo Ruutu will be sidelined until the playoffs – or even next season – after undergoing hip surgery. The Raleigh News & Observer broke the bad news to Canes fans while leaders of the NHL and NHLPA worked to strike a new deal and end the lockout.
Ruutu agreed to a four-year, $19 million contract during the previous season and passed a physical when the campaign ended. All appeared well with him.
And then . . .
“In August he started complaining about it,” Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford told the newspaper. “He tried a number of things to rehab it but it got to the point the doctors recommended surgery.
“There was really nothing that signaled surgery might be necessary. It just flared up. Like most athletes, hockey players have a lot of wear and tear on their hips.”
Carolina counted on Ruutu to provide a physical presence and score some goals. He scored 18 times last season and added 16 assists. His 151 hits led the team.
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford is sorting through his roster, deciding which players are part of his nucleus and which ones are not.
Center Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward clearly are keepers. Rutherford decided defenseman Tim Gleason belonged in the nucleus, too, so he negotiated a four-year, $16 million extension with him.
Now Rutherford wants to work a similar deal with gritty forward Tuomo Ruutu.
“Tuomo is a player we really like, and he said he likes being with the team,” Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer. “That's an important first step and we had a good meeting. The next hurdle may be the bigger hurdle, but at least we know we're on the same page.”
That next hurdle is negotiating a contract extension for the pending free agent. Ruutu turns 29 this month. How many years and how many dollars would he need to re-up?
“We need to make a decision and he needs to make a decision,” Rutherford said.
If Rutherford can’t reach a deal in the next week or so, he could move Ruutu to one of several contenders seeking to acquire him in a trade. His reported asking price would be a first-round pick AND a good prospect.
That is a steep price to pay for a third-line player, but Ruutu could add scoring touch and some sandpaper to the front lines of a Stanley Cup hopeful.
When the Carolina Hurricanes upset the Boston Bruins 3-0 Thursday, no fewer than 12 NHL teams were represented in the press box.
Scouts are tracking several potential trade targets on the ‘Canes, including pesky forward Tuomo Ruutu – who scored one of the Carolina goals during a showcase performance.
“I've heard rumors I'm going to every team in the NHL,” Ruutu told the Raleigh News & Observer. "I must be really playing well . . . You hear rumors but I think everybody is different. We're all human. Some guys take it more seriously, some take it less seriously. Everybody has their own way of dealing with it. I hear about stuff but there's nothing I can really do, so . . .”
Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek is coming off an upper body injury, so teams will follow him as a possible rental player. Defenseman Tim Gleason is off the market after signing a four-year contract extension.
Goaltender Cam Ward and center Eric Staal appear to be off-limits as well, since GM Jim Rutherford has given no indication that he will move one of his cornerstone players.
The Columbus Blues Jackets appear ready to hold a yard sale. Everything might go!
While other teams have picked up their play – most notably Anaheim and Carolina – the Jackets are now the Team Most Likely To Dump Payroll.
Finding a taker for Jeff Carter and his staggering salary may not be easy, but expect Columbus to make every effort.
Here were some of the other rumors coming out of the All-Star Game:
Would the Dallas Stars really deal Brenden Morrow as part of a sweeping overhaul? If that team is willing to go there, the Red Wings would be just one of the possible bidders.
Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter told the world that he won’t extend his contract before the trade deadline. So teams trying to acquire him from Nashville would do on a rental basis – something that may not excite him. “I'm a Nashville Predator until July,” he told ESPN. “I will focus on making my team better.”
As always, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is dying to add size and grit. This has led to speculation about Ryane Clowe (San Jose Sharks) and Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes). The San Jose management insists Clowe is staying put this season.
Goaltender Ryan Miller is no longer regarded as a team cornerstone in Buffalo. Given the number of teams looking for help in the net, expect Miller to become the subject of much speculation. How about a straight-up deal with Anaheim, Miller for Jonas Hiller?
If Anaheim deals Hiller without getting a goaltender in return, would the Ducks send Corey Perry up to Vancouver for Cory Schneider, forward Mason Raymond and defenseman Keith Ballard? Such quality-for-quantity deals usually backfire. Depth is easier to find than high-end talent.
Buffalo also seems likely to shop center Derek Roy. Montreal was linked to him earlier and some folks think the Kings could move into play – despite that team’s apparently depth up the middle.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Kings are looking to move chronic underachiever Dustin Penner, but what team would really covet him? Eastern Conference teams are always starved for size, but his salary will be tough to digest.
With Carolina willing to move Jarsoslav Spacek, Bryan Allen and/or Tim Gleason, the Panthers might look there once Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford lowers his asking price.
Would Rutherford trade goaltender Cam Ward? He has dismissed such speculation, but other teams are watching carefully. Ward does carry an annual cap hit of $6.3 million for the next five seasons.
If the Canadiens up to sell off some parts, gritty forward Travis Moen might attract some interest. He is headed for unrestricted free agency.
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The Hot List
Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Semin.
The Cold List
Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers,John Tavares, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Vancouver Canucks,