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'Canes, Hawks swap forwards

by Adam Kimelman

Carolina traded Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Tuomo Ruutu.
Andrew Ladd | Tuomo Ruutu
The Chicago Blackhawks thought they were drafting a future cornerstone player when they spent the ninth-overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft on Tuomo Ruutu. The Carolina Hurricanes thought the same when they chose Andrew Ladd fourth overall in 2004.

On Tuesday afternoon, the teams swapped the promising, but injury-prone, forwards.

"Andrew Ladd is a very good, young forward who won a Stanley Cup with Carolina as a 20-year-old," said Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon. "We acquired a very good, young player in Andrew Ladd and in doing so had to give up a good, young player in Tuomo Ruutu."

In 43 games with the Hurricanes this season, Ladd had nine goals, 18 points and was a plus-9, but he missed 19 games due to various injuries.

In the Hurricanes' run to the 2005 Stanley Cup, Ladd had two goals and five points in 17 games.

Now in his third NHL season, the 6-foot-2, 201-pounder has 26 goals and 50 points in 137 games.

With the Blackhawks sitting 13th in the Western Conference and eight points out of a playoff spot with 20 games to play, this trade further signifies Chicago's commitment to giving its younger players -- Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews -- a larger piece of the team and hope the lumps taken today will lead to success in the future.

Going south to Carolina is Ruutu, a 6-foot, 200-pound banger with good hands, but whose physical play has led to injuries that have stunted his growth.

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"Tuomo is a versatile player who gives the coaches more options at center or wing," said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. "He's a hard-hitting and skilled two-way player who will complement our group of forwards."

With Rod Brind'Amour lost for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee earlier this month, the Hurricanes needed to add a center. Ruutu, 25, was used at center and left wing in Chicago.

Ruutu's best season was his first, when he had 23 goals and 44 points while playing all 82 games as a rookie in 2003-04. Since that first season, though, he's played just 146 of a possible 246 games.

Ruutu has been healthy this season, playing 60 of 62 games, during which he's registered six goals and 21 points.

In 228 NHL games, Ruutu has 48 goals and 108 points.


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