Ruutu contract decision expected next week

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 16, 2012 

Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday that a decision on a proposed contract extension for forward Tuomo Ruutu should be reached early next week.

Rutherford said the parameters of the extension had been set, although he did not offer any other details. Ruutu, who turned 29 Thursday, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and is thought to be seeking a long-term contract.

"Both sides have a full understanding of the parameters and now we have to see where it goes," Rutherford said. "This is not something that has to drag on. We've gone through how it would work, for both sides -- the upsides, the downsides. By the first of next week we should have a better understanding of where the situation stands."

Ruutu suffered an upper-body injury Monday in the Canes' 5-3 win over Montreal and is expected to be sidelined three weeks. Before the injury, the physical forward was at the center of much NHL trade speculation.

Should Ruutu not be able to agree on an extension, he still could be traded. Asked if Ruutu's trade value had dipped significantly because of the injury, or if Ruutu no longer was a trade possibility, Rutherford said: "I haven't even looked at that. For seven to 10 days now we've been moving forward on trying to get the contract extension done."

Rutherford had not negotiated a contract extension with a player during the season until this year. The Canes signed defenseman Tim Gleason to a four-year, $16 million extension Jan. 30. Like Ruutu, Gleason was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Canes defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek also are due to become UFAs after the season and could be traded. But Rutherford said there are "no discussions" currently underway about potential deals involving the two players.

"If the trade deadline was today I would say no, they won't be traded," Rutherford said. "But a lot can happen between now and the trade deadline. We'll see what the team situation is in the next seven to 10 days."

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