will make his season debut for the Carolina Hurricanes tonight against the New Jersey Devils, head coach Kirk Muller confirmed Thursday morning.
After skating with the team for around a week, Ruutu, who had hip surgry in mid-December and has missed the team’s first 29 games, gave the green light to jump into the lineup.
“He’s excited and ready to go,” Muller said, adding jokingly that he will play 30 minutes. “It’s a lot to do with the schedule. We waited to see what the right opportunity was for him. I said, ‘Listen, when you feel comfortable, let me know.’ He felt comfortable enough this morning to say, ‘I’m ready.’”
As Muller noted a week ago, Ruutu, who hasn’t played an NHL game in nearly a calendar year, will be eased into the lineup, starting on the fourth line.
“We’ll start him off slowly and kind of monitor him as the game goes on,” Muller said. “He’ll start on the fourth line and just get his feet wet.
“We’ll be a better team with him in the lineup. With the way this year has been, having one more healthy body is huge.”