We stepped away from our year end "exit analysis" reports for the past couple of weeks as draft coverage and conditioning camp coverage took precedent, but it's time to get back to our end of season grading of the players. (When finished with the players, we will then move on to the coaching staff and general manager.)
Here is a listing of the players who have previously been graded along with their results:
- Tim Gleason A
- Sergei Samsonov C-
- Rod Brind`Amour D
- Chad LaRose B-
- Manny Legace B
- Joni Pitkanen B+
- Ray Whitney B
- Erik Cole D+
Next up is forward Tuomo Ruutu.
This past season is probably one that Tuomo Ruutu would like to forget. He missed a total of 25 games during the year because of a variety of injuries. (He also missed three games due to a league mandated suspension after a hit on Darcy Tucker). His point totals were not the greatest, (54 games, 14 goals, 21 assists, 35 points, -4 plus/minus).
The player also had to undergo major shoulder surgery at the end of the season. Early reports indicate that he will be ready to start next season, but shoulder surgeries are touchy and sometimes can be difficult for players to quickly recover from.
The Good: Ruutu can always be counted on to play with fire and determination. Even though he missed a total of 28 games, he still finished third on the Hurricanes with 156 hits. (Tom Kostopoulos had 160 and Andrew Alberts 178). His total of 35 points was seventh best on the team and his .64 point per game average was sixth best.
Ruutu played through several injuries and even though he seemed less than 100% for much of the season, he gave it his all. When the Hurricanes had a rematch with the Colorado Avalanche and he was challenged by Tucker, he did the honorable thing and dropped the gloves, although in retrospect he probably threw his shoulder out in the fight and might have been better served to skate away from the challenge.
The Bad: Ruutu can be reckless at times and his three game suspension because of his illegal hit struck the team at a horrible time, right in the middle of their 14 game losing streak. The Hurricanes need more point production from him, but in order to do that he needs to stay healthy. Is that possible for this player? He was able to play in 79 games in 2008-09 but has had issues with injuries most of his career.
The Money: The Finn still has two years remaining on his three year deal he signed at the end of the 2008-09 season. His cap hit of $3.8 million is fourth highest on the team. He will earn $4 million this season and $4.4 million the next.
Discussion: Based upon his salary and your expectations, what grade would you give to Ruutu and why? Should he continue to sacrifice his body with borderline reckless play, or should he hold back a bit to try to keep from being injured as much?