Originally written on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 11/19/14

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 21: Tuomo Ruutu #15 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the New York Islanders on October 21, 2009 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Isles won the game 4-3 after a shoot out. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The Hurricanes played most of last season with a banged up roster and an important piece missing was Tuomo Ruutu. The rugged winger was limited to only 17 games last season after undoing hip surgery during the lockout. It was clear that his absence created a big void to fill in the Hurricanes top-six, as the team struggled to replace him on the second line. The right wing spot was basically a revolving door for the first two months of the seasons and it had a big impact on the Canes secondary scoring. Some would consider Ruutu a "declining player" because he is in his 30's (he's the oldest forward on the team), has battled injuries the last couple of seasons and posted underwhelming numbers in his last full-season. Ruutu's health is a major concern, especially since he is now playing on two surgically repaired hips, but calling him a "declining" player is a bit of a stretch. The injuries may hinder the physical side of Ruutu's game but when healthy, he was very effective last year. Ruutu has been able to score at a top-six rate at even strength for most of his career and this didn't change last season. His nine points in 17 games would give him an even strength scoring rate of 2.08 points per 60 minutes. This is a small sample size, but it does show that Ruutu had a pretty big impact when he was healthy and his even strength scoring rate over the last five seasons has been among the best on the team. Year ESP/60 Fwd Rank 2008-09 1.78 5th 2009-10 1.98 4th 2010-11 2.28 2nd 2011-12 1.79 4th 2012-13 2.08 4th Ruutu has been one of the five best forwards on the team during this time and only the top line scored at a higher rate than him last season. Also consider that he has been a positive possession player and someone who can play the tough matchups if needed and it's easy to conclude that Ruutu is a key piece for Carolina. Being able to get at least 60+ games out of him next season will go a long way.  As of right now, Ruutu is listed as one of three left wings on the roster, but I think he will eventually end up on a line with Jordan Staal & Jeff Skinner. The reason why I'm clamoring for these three to be put together so much is because they are the most dangerous offensive players on the team not on the first line and there are indications that they can be a formidable second line. I've mentioned before that Staal & Skinner showed more chemistry than they were given credit for, as they were the Hurricanes best duo at controlling the shot battle last year. This will eventually lead to more goals next season and adding Ruutu will only make things better. Why? Because Ruutu has a history of playing well with Jeff Skinner. These two along with Jussi Jokinen formed what was arguably the Hurricanes best scoring line in 2010-11 & 2011-12, and there's no reason why they can't do the same with Staal centering them. I mentioned earlier that the Hurricanes second line was inconsistent last year because they cycled through so many different players at the right wing, but adding Ruutu could be what makes this unit gel together. Ruutu doesn't have much of a history playing with Staal, but Skinner's results with him are hard to beat. Player Goals w/15 Goals w/o 15 Pts w/15 Pts w/o 15 Corsi% w/15 Corsi% w/o 15 Skinner (Career) 1.398 0.756 2.446 1.557 0.508 0.509 Jokinen (2008-13) 0.368 0.761 1.717 1.656 0.511 0.495 J. Staal (2012-13) 0.440 0.847 1.758 1.588 0.539 0.540 Since Skinner entered the league, his goal production has always been higher when he plays with Ruutu and he has produced at a first line rate with him, too. Given how often these two have played together, that is very impressive and it makes little sense to separate them. Playing away from Ruutu hasn't affected Skinner's ability to drive the play, but it's interesting to see how much his point production drop. He isn't the only one who Ruutu's had this effect on, although his is a little more extreme.  Both Staal & Jokinen saw their point production slightly decline while playing away from Ruutu and Jokinen was a negative possession player away from him. He hasn't played that many minutes with Staal yet, but his results with him are promising thus far and adding Skinner into the equation could really put them over the edge. Skinner & Ruutu have shown tremendous chemistry in past seasons and have the potential to form a great second line with Staal as the pivot. All they need is some time to work together, which they were not given last season. Scoring depth was a major issue for the Hurricanes last season and while they didn't make many moves to address it this off-season, it could be mitigated if they get more out of their second line this year. Skinner & Staal are due to have more productive years, but getting Ruutu may end up being the difference maker for this unit. Stats courtesy of Behind the Net & Hockey Analysis
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries


Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

Jimbo Fisher: Winston is victim of ‘character assassination’

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

Tiger Woods drops out of top 100 for first time in 19 years

Top 10 stories from NCAA Tourney's second weekend

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: How can every team win?

WrestleMania 31 results: Rollins cashes in, Rousey appears

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.