March 21, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Tuomo Ruutu (15) looks on during warmups against the New Jersey Devils at the PNC center. The Devils defeated the Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Where Does Tuomo Ruutu Fit In The Lineup?

The Carolina Hurricanes have a potentially good problem on their hands in the coming weeks – a returning player from injury that has to be fit into a lineup that is currently playing strong hockey.

Tuomo Ruutu has been on the road of recovery for a couple of weeks now and began skating a few days ago. He may not play tomorrow against the Phoenix Coyotes, but Ruutu should rejoin the lineup sometime next week.

Last season, Ruutu played mostly with Jordan Staal on the second line. If it were up to me, he would return to that spot when he comes back, taking Patrick Dwyer‘s spot.

Dwyer could then move down to the third line, replacing Radek Dvorak, who would fall to the fourth line. Dvorak has looked strong this season, but it shouldn’t be expected of him to play this well all year.

Elias Lindholm was injured last night and could miss some time. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, it’s possible that Elias Lindholm could miss some time with an injury he suffered in last night’s game, so it’s possible nobody will come out of the lineup.

But if Lindholm is fine, Kirk Muller will have to sit another player.

The candidates should be Brett Sutter and Drayson Bowman. Riley Nash sat last night, but has been playing well on the third line, while the other two are fourth-line wingers.

I would expect Sutter to be the player taken out of the lineup. Bowman can move up and down the lines, as shown in the game against the Penguins, while Sutter is strictly a fourth-line/penalty killer.

That’s not to say Sutter has been playing bad, he’s looked fine in all areas of the game, but Ruutu could contribute more to the team.

This problem may be a good one to have, but it’s a tough decision to make and Muller will have to make that choice in the coming days.

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Tags: Brett Sutter Carolina Hurricanes Drayson Bowman Tuomo Ruutu

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