“You guys miss me yet?!”
This one was a little puzzling at the time. It was also very frustrating for me because I had just purchased a Ruutu jersey. Go ahead, laugh it up…
In March of 2008, The Hawks were finally beginning to escape the “dark ages”. Tuomo Ruutu had just about the highest expectations for any player during the dark ages. A free agent signing from Finland, Ruutu was at the time considered to be the Best hockey player in the world, outside of the NHL.
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In his first season in the NHL, Ruutu played for a horrible Hawks team in 2003-2004. He recorded 23 goals and 21 assists. In 2004-2005, Ruutu would return to Finland thanks to the NHL lockout. He would go on to play only 15 games in ’05-’06 due to injury and would never really reach his potential.
It makes you wonder what would have happened if the ’04-’05 lockout didn’t happen. What a shame. Ruutu would struggle in ’06-’07 and even more so in ’07-’08(Kane and Toews’ respective rookie years) and he would be sent to Carolina at the ’07-’08 trade deadline in exchange for another struggling former 1st round pick, Andrew Ladd.
Ladd won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 but was not reaching his respective potential, much like Ruutu. Ladd would never be a big point-producer for the Hawks, but his defensive game was a big component of the Hawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship.
Ladd would wind up being another cap casualty after the 2010 championship and become the captain of the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets. He would also become a quality offensive player for the Thrashers/Jets, where his lowest point total would be 46, but that was in the 48-game lockout shortened 2013 season.
Ruutu is also still playing and is a very solid player for the New Jersey Devils, but he has never won a cup and he hasn’t come close to his true potential.
Next: Which Trade Is #3?
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