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Senators add Ruutu and keep Donovan

by Brian Compton

Jarrko Ruutu, a prominent piece of the Penguins postseason run, will brgin his agitating skills to Ottawa, where he signed a three-year contract on Wednesday.
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After watching Darcy Tucker and Sean Avery get scooped up by the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars respectively, Ottawa Senators General Manager quickly joined the agitator party by signing Jarkko Ruutu to a three-year contract on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Ruutu joins the Senators after spending the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ruutu, who turns 33 next month, had six goals, 10 assists and 138 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Pens in 2007-08. He had two goals in 20 Playoff games while helping the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Ruutu's older brother, Mikko, is a Finnish scout for Ottawa, which Murray admitted also played a role in Jarkko’s decision to become a Senator.

"He's a big body, a strong guy with strong character," Murray said of his newest acquisition. "He's a good guy. His brother works for us, and he's a good guy. He's certainly a guy that plays a good role. He's kind of an agitator and he's a guy who shows up to play every night. He's a good shootout guy, as well."

While Ruutu won't provide the Sens with as much offense as Avery will likely bring to the Stars, Murray is confident that he can certainly contribute to a team that is looking to bounce back after being ousted by the Penguins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sens reached the Final in 2007 before falling to the Anaheim Ducks.

Ultimately, it was Ruutu's character and personality that attracted Murray and the Senators to reach out when the free-agent market opened on Tuesday.

"I don't think he scores like a Sean Avery with quite that offensive ability, but he brings a lot to the table," Murray said. "He's bigger. He's competitive and he battles. He's an agitator, there's no question. He brings that dimension, and I think that's a good thing for a hockey team. I think he’ll be quite popular in our room.

"We indicated (on Tuesday) that we'd like to be one of the teams considered to be in the hunt for him. I think he was happy. I think he was looking for another opportunity. He certainly likes the hockey environment here, and he indicated that."

Ruutu's role with the club ultimately will be determined by new coach Craig Hartsburg, but Murray said he has an idea on where Ruutu fits in the team's plans as far as linemates are concerned.

Furthermore, Murray believes that his team did not lack grit last season, but Ruutu will certainly give the Senators a boost in that department.

"We had some gritty guys … I just think he can play on a line that checks," Murray said. "It gives him a chance to be a solid, two-way player. This is up to Craig Hartsburg, but he might be a complimentary left-wing player for Chris Kelly. He's a guy that might play with Chris Neil as well. I think that would give us a real hard-nosed line, a competitive line. It's the type of line that can match up against good people on the other team."

The Ruutu signing wasn’t the only Ottawa transaction on Wednesday. The club also re-signed right wing Shean Donovan to a two-year deal. Donovan, 33, appeared in all 82 games for the Sens in 2007-08, notching five goals and seven assists. Three of those five goals were game-winners.

"The one thing I found out with Shean in our conversations was that he really wanted to stay in Ottawa," Murray said. "He played here before and he's from here and he wants to settle here. He was in talking to me this morning at 9 o'clock. I like the guy. I like his energy. He got a chance in the latter part of the year to contribute much more than he did early on. I thought he did a real good job for us. He's a big body and he can skate."

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