Any time a trade is made in professional sports, talking heads, fans, and media types rush to figure out which team won the trade. Sometimes a trade looks one sided. On paper it looks like the New York Rangers won the Rick Nash trade. They get a 30 goal scorer and power play monster for three players that were not key figures for the Rangers. In most cases, you have to wait over a period of time to see how a trade works out. The Hurricanes have been involved in their fair share a deals over the years. Some are major, like the Sutter/Staal trade, and others are non-blockbusters. On February 26, 2008, Jim Rutherford traded 22 year old winger Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks for 25 year old Tuomo Ruutu. The Canes were in a playoff race, and had just traded Cory Stillman and Mike Commadore to Ottawa for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves. Eaves had been hurt and was just returning to the line-up. The team was dealing with other injuries and one of the positives Ruutu could provide was his versatility in playing both wing and center. When asking “who won” this trade, we have to look at it from the Canes perspective because the Blackhawks, after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, were forced to dump salary and trade Ladd to the Atlanta Thrashers. So let’s look at the trade four plus years later to see how things have turned out.
Tuomo Ruutu- The 6 feet 205 pound Fin has become a fan favorite in Raleigh. It started the very first shift of his first game with the Hurricanes. Arriving minutes before face off, Ruutu takes the ice on his first shift and lays a bone rattling hit on Colin White of the Devils. He spends the rest of the period hitting everything in site. He is forced to leave the game in the second period when he receives a high stick form Patrick Elias. Ruutu goes on to score 11 points in the last 17 games of the season. During the next four seasons, Ruutu has shown to be a fairly durable player. Despite his style of play , he has averaged 77 games in three of four years. In those same years, Tuomo has scored 22 goals and 47 points on average. In 2009/10 he played in only 54 games when he suffered a broken hand in a fight against Darcy Tucker. Earlier in the year Tuomo had been suspended after boarding Tucker in a game in Colorado. When they met again in Raleigh, Ruutu fought Tucker on the first shift they were on the ice. Being suspended by the league is one thing, but Ruutu did the stand up thing by fighting Tucker. He showed to the fans and his teammates that he would be accountable for his mistakes. That is one of the many reasons he is a fan favorite. He is an important part of the Canes playoff push this year, having signed a 4 year, $19 million contract during this past season. Having sung Ruutu’s praises, would Canes fans rather have Andrew Ladd back in the 2008 trade?
Andrew Ladd- Ladd has become a 29 goal power forward in the NHL. He teamed with Troy Brouwer and provided toughness and grit to the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Playing a similar style as Ruutu, the 6′ 3″ 205 pound 26 years old, has missed only one game in the past four seasons. He has scored an average of 29 G and 54Pts for the Thrashers/Jets the last two years. He is what Canes fans dream of having, a top line power forward to play with Eric Staal. He is the Captain of the Jets, not an easy task for a young man playing in a Canadian city. He signed a 5 year $25 million contract in 11/12.
Tale of the Tape- Ladd is younger (26) than Ruutu (29) and has a $4.4 million cap hit as compared to $ 4.75 to Ruutu. Ladd plays 19.30 minutes a game to Ruutu’s 16.27. Their power play and penalty kill time are almost identical ( Ladd 2:36/1:32 TOI-Ruutu 2:28/1:26TOI), while Ruutu out hit Ladd in 11/12 151-76. In the end the Blackhawks got a Stanley Cup with Ladd and the Hurricanes got a solid 20 goal scorer. So what do you think? Was this a good trade for the Canes or do Caniacs have regrets? Will the same question be asked 4 years from now about Brandon Sutter and Jordan Staal?