That's not booing you hear around the triangle today. The Carolina Hurricanes and Tuomo Ruutu finally agreed to a contract this morning and both sides seem mutually excited to have the deal completed. I spoke with Bill Zito of Acme World Sports again and he confirmed that his client was ecstatic.
"Tuomo is really happy to be coming back to Carolina. He loves it there," the agent said. "He really wanted to stay."
Zito had been representing Ruutu since the very beginning of the negotiations. I asked him if the term of the contract had ever been a sticking point. "Not at all. We had several discussions and we talked about a lot of different things. Shorter terms and possibly even a longer term. Either way, Tuomo loves it there so the length of the contract itself did not matter."
The agent went on to elaborate. "Long term contracts like the Hossa deal are extremely rare because they are risky for the club. They are risky for the player as well because with a new CBA coming out in three years, there is an unknown as to what happens next."
Ruutu was on 99.9 The Fan during the noon hour and sounded as happy as can be.
The Canes should be celebrating as well. While the contract might seem a bit high for the final two years, the team could ill afford to get into a bidding war for a prime asset if they allowed him to enter unrestricted free agency a year from now. This way they lock up the price and keep a valuable piece of their puzzle, a player that they acquired by trading away another prime asset in Andrew Ladd. The club certainly did not want to go to arbitration, agree to a one year contract, then end up losing the player they acquired for Ladd as he turns into a budding star in Chicago.
Jim Rutherford succeeded in not having to face salary arbitration yet another time. He still has some work to do though as the clock has started to tick on his buy-out option of Frantisek Kaberle's contract. My understanding is that he has 48 hours after the Ruutu deal has been completed to make a decision regarding that. (edit- plus three days for processing).
Then there is also the minor detail of trading for a top four defenseman.
Kudos to Peter Karmanos, who is over his 50 million dollar self imposed budget at the present moment, with more contracts ahead. It will be interesting to see if they can wheel and deal their way below 50 million when all is said and done.