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Canes ponder how Ruutu will fit in upon return

Mar 16, 2013, 10:40 PM EDT

Tuomo Ruutu Getty Images

Whenever Tuomo Ruutu manages to get back into action with the Carolina Hurricanes, the team faces an interesting question: where will he line up?

During the preseason, the team was pondering putting Jordan and Eric Staal on the same line, yet Ruutu’s season-threatening hip surgery put that to sleep. Now with Eric developing outstanding chemistry alongside Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin, Kirk Muller told the Raleigh News & Observer that Ruutu, 30, could prompt some second-line experimenting.

“We need to see where (Ruutu) is at,” Muller said. “If he comes back and he’s playing at the level he’s capable of, initially (the second line) is where you have him penciled in.

“Then you go and see the chemistry for all six. There’s a few scenarios you look at. But I don’t think you do it until you see how he fits in with Jordan and Skinner, and you don’t have to disrupt Eric’s line, which is going so well. I’d rather just experiment with the second (line).”

Skinner-Staal-Ruutu would bring an interesting mix of finesse (Skinner), grit (Ruutu) and combination of both (Staal), but a lot of that depends on the rugged Finn’s fitness and health.

Ruutu said that his rehab is still a work in progress, so Carolina likely will have some time to mull over the possibilities. It could be awfully interesting to see what comes of it.

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