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McKenzie: Hurricanes expected to get trade activity going

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Bob McKenzie
2/6/2012 6:29:57 PM
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It's been eerily quiet on the NHL trade front, but the sense is it could be the Carolina Hurricanes that get things going this week with a trade or two.

The Hurricanes put forward Anthony Stewart on waivers Monday, but the move contending teams are waiting for is the team committing to dealing gritty forward Tuomo Ruutu.

General manager Jim Rutherford has been talking to teams about Ruutu (who is an unrestricted free agent this summer) and the asking price has been steep - a significant draft pick and a solid prospect or a top prospect alone. Ruuttu has the ability to both score goals and play a physical game, so a lot of teams have interest - including the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers amongst others.

The Rangers, for example, figure Ruutu is just the type of Top 9 forward that could play coach John Tortorella's demanding style.

Two questions, though.

Will teams pay that price?

And more importantly, is Ruutu actually available? That will be determined this week when Rutherford decides whether to give him the 'Tim Gleason treatment.'

With Gleason, Rutherford ultimately determined he was a player they would like to keep - for the right price. So once the Hurricanes knew exactly what they would get in trade for Gleason, Rutherford took Gleason to lunch and told him a) a trade could be made or b) the defenceman could agree to stay in Raleigh at the Hurricanes' price. In this case, four years at $4 million per year.

So Gleason opted to stay.

Now if Rutherford gives Ruutu the same option, it will be up to the player to decide his own fate. So the betting is Ruutu is either dealt this week or he signs an extension to stay with Carolina.

Whether Ruutu stays or goes, the Hurricanes have two rental (and pending free agent) defencemen who are almost certain to be moved before the deadline - Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen. Both are perfect depth players and Spacek - based on his strong playoff track record - is a blueliner who's bound to be very popular.

But it's Ruutu that is the first order of business for the Hurricanes and we should know this week if he's going to be the catalyst for some NHL trade activity.

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