On a busy trade deadline day across the NHL, the Devils quietly added a valuable veteran asset for the final homestretch of the regular season.
New Jersey acquired forward Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward Andrei Loktionov and a conditional third-round pick in 2017.
A former ninth-overall selection, Ruutu has five goals and 11 assists in 57 games this season with the Hurricanes. But his résumé includes two seasons with 20-plus goals, including a career-high 26 in 2008-09, and he’s coming off of his second straight Olympic bronze medal with Finland.
"We’re always trying to get better,” said general manager Lou Lamoriello, whose Devils have taken three of four since the Olympic break following Tuesday’s win over Detroit.
"There’s a price that you have to pay and you have to weigh what’s too high and what’s too low. But we feel very good about this addition, because he’s also here for a couple of years. He’s 31 years old, he takes care of himself. He knows how to play. He brings a certain dimension I think we need."
Ruutu will travel east from San Jose, where the Hurricanes played Tuesday, and is expected to practice in New Jersey on Thursday. He’ll make his Devils debut Friday against the Red Wings.
Here's more of what Lamoriello had to say about the newest Devil:
Did you achieve what you wanted to today?
Lamoriello: Our intention certainly was to get a top-nine forward with a lot of grit, who competes and has a habit of playing in big games. We’ve played enough against [Ruutu] over the years. We feel good about it.
Where do you think he fits?
Lamoriello: The coaches will decide that as far as what’s best. We’re fortunate enough to have several players who can fit in different positions. Other than two or three, they can all be interchangeable, so it’s going to be the line combinations that the coaches feel. He’s a left shot, but can play anywhere.
What’s been the scouting report?
Lamoriello: He does the things that we like to see. He gets right in your face.
Does he have special teams capability?
Lamoriello: He’s played in all situations. He’s not a player that’s one-dimensional. He was a pretty high draft pick, we remember him from his draft year when Chicago took him. He’s been consistent and he’s scored. He’s had a 26-goal season, so it’s not something that he’s not capable of doing. He’s delighted to be here. He had to make the decision to come here because he has a no-trade clause, so that decision was on him 100 percent. He had a choice and he came here.
Are you still pretty confident about your playoff shot?
Lamoriello: I will tell you this: I was confident prior to making this transaction about this team. I think that some of our players are just starting to find themselves after the break. We’ve got a couple of others that I think are really ready to achieve. We’re a team, we have to play like a team. Our coaching staff has done an excellent job of maximizing that. I think once you get in the playoffs, it’s anybody’s chance, but you have to get there first. We’re right there in the mix. We have to win. It’s as simple as that. I don’t know of any other way of putting it.