The Carolina Hurricanes have found lightning in a bottle with Finnish-born talent the past 15 or so months. Tuomo Ruutu, Joni Pitkanen and Jussi Jokinen have established themselves as key pieces to the Canes' attack and found a comfort zone in the Triangle. But Finland has come calling — not for any of the aforementioned, but rather free agent prospect Jakub Petruzalek. The Czech-born winger, who played two games with Carolina last season, has decided to leave North America for Lukko Rauma of SM-Liiga, the top league in Finland.
Petruzalek tied Jerome Samson for the team-lead in points last season in Albany, scoring 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points in 77 games. But more importantly, his hustle and determination translated to the NHL in his brief audition. In more than 16 minutes of ice time — including some power play and penalty kill time — in two games, Petruzalek got his first career assist and was plus-1.
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But while his contributions in Raleigh seem minimal, Petruzlek is still just 24 and could have been been one of Carolina's go-to call-ups in 2009-10 (along with recently re-signed journeyman Michael Ryan) if he had re-signed with the Hurricanes.
Instead, he's off to Finland. Hopefully the country is as friendly to Jakub its three natives have been to the Hurricanes ... and hopefully Carolina can fill the hole vacated by Petruzalek's departure.