Pierre LeBrun of ESPN spoke with Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford and heard something somewhat unexpected about forward/trade bait Tuomo Ruutu:
"Our priority now is to try and re-sign him."
What what WHAT?!
Rutherford met with Ruutu earlier this week to discuss "where he's at, this season and in the future." The GM told the News & Observer that the meeting would determine what the Canes would do with Ruutu at the trade deadline, where he was expected to be one of the top forwards available (which speaks volumes about the 2012 trade deadline).
Three theories about the change in course:
No One's Meeting His Asking Price. The Hurricanes were asking for a Dustin Penner Trade-esque "significant draft pick and a solid prospect or a top prospect alone." Perhaps that market wasn't there for Ruutu and Rutherford would rather bring him back for the right contractual price than deal him for less than "market value." Or, perhaps, Rutherford is trying to jack up that asking price by making it appear that the Hurricanes aren't simply dumping a soon-to-be UFA at the deadline.
Jim Rutherford Believes in Parity. We've already seen a commitment to bring back Tim Gleason as a core player. Re-signing Ruutu would indicate that Rutherford doesn't see systemic problems with this roster's foundational players, and that the Hurricanes can contend again in 2012-13. With, potentially, a Top 2 prospect on the roster from the draft as well.
Jim Rutherford Hates Fun. Seriously, dude: You already took Gleason off the market, leaving the TSN panel to debate the fate of Chris Campoli for three hours. Without Ruutu, what are we left with? The Samuel Pahlsson derby? Boo!