“I’ve heard rumors I’m going to every team in the NHL."
That line may sound like a rather humorous epitome of the endless rumors that annually surround the NHL Trade Deadline, but for Tuomu Ruutu, he's not kidding.
The Carolina Hurricanes' 28-year-old winger, who told, half-seriously, the above quote to the Raleigh News & Observer's Chip Alexander in an interview earlier this month, is an upcoming free agent on a definite "seller" team—a sure-fire recipe for heated trade talks as the Feb. 29th deadline approaches.
Indeed, Ruutu has become arguably the most desirable player available since Carolina GM Jim Rutherford took Tim Gleason off the market last week.
With a nice total of 17 goals on the year—easily on pace to record the fourth 19-plus goal season of his career—as well as strong hitting presence (second in the NHL in hits last year), Ruutu offers the well-rounded package that a plethora of playoff bubble teams would love to get their hands on.
The former Olympian's $3.8 million cap hit—really only worth about $1.3 million over the last few months of the season—is unlikely to deter many lustful GM's from making their bid. However, Rutherford's asking price is said to be steep, adding to the Ruutu sweepstakes yet another aura of complexity that's sure to fascinate NHL gossipers all February long.
Every new week has been forecasted to bring a resolution to the madness, but so far, none of those predictions have held true. A completed deal could be announced at any time, though, giving the current frontrunners an edge that, for most other clubs on the fray, could be impossible to overcome.
Is your favorite team in contention to land 2012's hottest acquisition? Well, have a look.