While Andrej Sekera and Alexander Semin may have had tough Winter Olympic outings, Tuomo Ruutu had just the opposite, scoring five points and helping Team Finland to a bronze medal, including a 5-0 win over the U.S. in the third-place game.
Besides scoring, Ruutu also helped out on the powerplay and provided a gritty game that only Leo Komarov could match on the Finland roster, which improved the team’s board and trench play.
But while it’s great for the 30-year-old that he won his 11th medal in 11 international tournaments, which is spectacular by the way, the Carolina Hurricanes need Ruutu to continue that impressive play into the rest of the regular season.
The good news for the Canes is that Ruutu was also playing well before the Olympic tournament, specifically the last game before the break against the Montreal Canadiens, where the fourth line was given the opportunity to carry a lot of the offense.
However, this season Ruutu has been a model of inconsistency. Some stretches he’s effective with his body and providing depth scoring, others he’s not even noticeable on the ice. Some of that is lingering injury problems and being shuffled around the lineup.
That inconsistency has led to trade rumors, and while nothing has been done yet, most likely because of Ruutu’s $4.750 million salary hit, GM Jim Rutherford may be able to find a taker by March 5.
The Hurricanes have 25 games left. Their most important stretch of the season starts on Wednesday and the team will need every player playing at the top of their game. If Ruutu plays like he did at the Olympics, trade rumors involving him will disappear, but also he’ll give the Canes a better chance of making the playoffs.