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Carolina’s Ruutu (hip) skates with teammates

Mar 14, 2013, 10:58 AM EDT

Tuomo Ruutu Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes got a boost at practice this morning as winger Tuomo Ruutu skated with teammates and, perhaps most importantly, participated without wearing a non-contact jersey.

Ruutu, 30, has missed all 25 games this year after undergoing hip surgery in early January.

The procedure was supposed keep Ruutuu shelved for the year — “certainly through the regular season,” ‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford said at the time — but the gritty Finn has rehabbed strongly and appears well ahead of schedule.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Carolina was looking at a potential Mar. 15 medical clearance date.

“Hopefully by next week we get the green light from him,” head coach Kirk Muller told the Raleigh News & Observer on Sunday. “I think it will start off as team practices, then physical contact. He’s a guy who has kept himself in pretty good shape. I think once it starts, as far as practices, I don’t think he’s too far off.”

Ruutu was reportedly taking random line rushes with the team at Thursday’s practice, in advance of tonight’s tilt against the Capitals.

Ruutu is a solid scorer (18 goals, 34 points last season; 57 points in 2010-11) and provides a physical presence up front. He led all Carolina forwards in hits last year, with 151.

  1. deeboy - Mar 14, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    If the Hurricanes get Ruutu back to form and slot him on the second line with Jordan Staal and Skinner, that will give them a top 6 that can skate with anyone. The defense is playing more responsibly, and Ellis and Peters are proving they are NHL caliber. You are likely looking at the SE division champs and will be top-4 points-wise in the East.

    The question will be, can Ellis/Peters get it done in the playoffs like Cam Ward?

  2. slammincamnewton - Mar 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Cam should be back for the playoffs.

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