Ruutu agrees to contract that keeps him with Hurricanes through 2015-16

The Carolina Hurricanes announced today that the team has agreed to terms with forward Tuomo Ruutu on a four-year contract extension. The deal will pay Ruutu $4 million in 2012-13, and $5 million per season in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

“Players like Tuomo are extremely difficult to replace, and it is very important for our franchise to keep him here long term,” said Canes GM Jim Rutherford. “Along with the physical elements and skill level that he brings on the ice, Tuomo is a popular leader in our locker room. We are very happy that he has committed to what we are building here, and is excited about what the future holds for the Hurricanes.”

Ruutu, 29, ranks second among Hurricanes skaters in goals (17) and fourth in points (30) in 57 games this season. The Vantaa, Finland, native is second on the team in hits (106) and tied for fourth on the team in plus/minus (+3). Ruutu played in his 500th career NHL game on Dec. 31 at Tampa Bay, and had a six-game point streak from Dec. 15-27 (5 goals, 2 assists).

Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks with the ninth overall selection of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Ruutu has totaled 128 goals, 167 assists (295 points) and 498 penalty minutes in 517 career NHL games with Chicago and Carolina. The Hurricanes acquired Ruutu from Chicago on Feb. 26, 2008, in exchange for Andrew Ladd, and he has earned 187 points (80g, 107a) in 289 games with Carolina. He established single-season career highs in goals (26) in 2008-09, and points (57) in 2010-11, and made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in 2009, helping the Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference Final.

Ruutu has represented his native Finland in 10 major international tournaments, including the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, when Finland won bronze. He was third among all skaters in goals at the 2011 IIHF World Championship, leading Finland to the gold medal.

The Carolina Hurricanes host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at the RBC Center (7 p.m., FOX Sports Carolinas HD, Hurricanes Radio Network).

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