Tuomo Ruutu is staying right where he's been since 2008 – in Carolina.
The Hurricanes took the 29-year-old forward off the trade market on Wednesday by re-signing him to a four-year contract worth $19 million. The deal will pay Ruutu $4 million in 2012-13, and $5 million per the following three seasons.
"Players like Tuomo are extremely difficult to replace, and it is very important for our franchise to keep him here long term," GM Jim Rutherford told the Hurricanes' website. "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 was more than happy to stay in Carolina.
"Most of all, the people – on my team, in this organization and Raleigh overall," Ruutu told the team's web site when asked what made him want to re-sign. "I like being here, and I really think we have a good future.
"I've still felt comfortable throughout the whole process. I've been sure about what I wanted to do, and I'm really happy that they wanted to have me here."
Ruutu cited a meeting he had with Rutherford on the team's most recent road trip in which they discussed the future.
"For me, a really big thing is that we have great team chemistry," Ruutu said. "We have great guys, guys that really care. I think that's the only way we can win, and I know we have it in here, so I'm excited to stay."
Ruutu, team captain Eric Staal, goalie Cam Ward and newly re-signed defenseman Tim Gleason all are under contract with Carolina through the 2015-16 season. Ruutu said the friendships he's made since joining the 'Canes four years ago are "most important."
"I want to win, but I think you can only win with good relationships with good people around you," he said. "Every time I come to the rink, I have fun. I like being around the guys.
"It's not just players; it's team staff, trainers, equipment guys, they're all good people. That's the way to be successful – be surrounded by good people."
If Ruutu didn't sign an extension, there would have likely been several teams lining up to negotiate for his services – even though he sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered on Feb. 13 in Montreal. An MRI the next day revealed he would miss approximately three weeks, which puts his return about two weeks away. Ruutu said that timetable is still accurate, but added that it would be "hopefully less."
"It's frustrating to be out, and I would definitely want to be out there and play and help do my part," he said. "If we keep winning, I'll keep a smile on my face even if I'm hurt."
Since the work stoppage in 2004-05, Ruutu has played 435 games and has 105 goals and 251 points. In 57 games this season, he has 17 goals and 30 points. Ruutu has played in four-plus seasons in Raleigh since being acquired at the 2008 trade deadline.
The native of Vantaa, Finland, is second on the team in hits (106) and tied for fourth on the team with a plus-3 rating. He 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 and 2 assists).
Ruutu told the team's web site he never really thought about life outside of a Hurricanes' sweater.
"The last couple of weeks, I haven't paid much attention," he said. "A month and a half ago, I didn't usually read that stuff, but I heard it from the guys and from my friends. At that point, it's like 'OK, what's going on?'
"For me, the toughest part has been I just want to play. I want to concentrate on playing good hockey," he said. "All the other stuff, I want the other people that know how to do that stuff take care of that. I'll try to do my job and play."