Tuomo Ruutu 2011-12 Projection

The Ruutu projection will be interesting because he is a player whose role has changed over the last few seasons. In Chicago, he was a fringe top-six player for the most part and struggled mightily before being traded to Carolina. The year after, he started to flourish as a winger on the first line scoring a career high 26 goals and 54 points. The year after, injuries kept him back and he struggled to find his place in the lineup. Last season saw the most drastic change for Ruutu as he made the transition to center and played predominately on the second line with Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Skinner for most of the latter half of the season. He set a new career high in points (57) and scored 19 goals. What should we expect from Ruutu this year? Does he continue to play center or should the team move him back to the wing and put Skinner in his natural position? More importantly, will those 57 points last season be Ruutu’s career high or will he improve on that this year at 28 years of age? Let’s find out…

Career Stats:

Season Age GP G A Pts EV PP SH S S% TOI
2003-04 20 82 23 21 44 13 10 0 174 13.2% 1345
2005-06 22 15 2 3 5 1 1 0 30 6.7% 221
2006-07 23 71 17 21 38 16 1 0 115 14.8% 1232
2007-08 24 77 10 22 32 6 4 0 100 10% 1224
2008-09 25 79 26 28 54 16 10 0 190 13.7% 1447
2009-10 26 54 14 21 35 9 5 0 122 11.5% 885
2010-11 27 82 19 38 57 12 7 0 148 12.8% 1380

This tables hows what I stated in the intro so there’s no need to get into the year-by-year details. Do take note of how his career shooting percentage is a little above 12% and that his assist totals have been piling up the last couple of seasons.

A big reason why the team moved Ruutu to center was to make more use of his play-making skills and put Skinner in more of a goal-scorers role since those are both player’s strongest assets, respectively. Ruutu has usually been more of a play-maker than a goal-scorer which is what the numbers indicate here, somewhat. Other underlying numbers show that Ruutu’s high assist total may have been due to luck while his high goal total in 2010-11 was due to playing with stronger teammates.

Let’s first examine his 2008-09 season where he set a career high in goals. Who was his most frequent line-mate that year? Eric Staal. Here’s some more numbers from that season courtesy of Behind The Net’s stat site. 

Ruutu in 2008-09

Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Corsi On Corsi Rel OZ% OZ% Fin GFON On-Ice Sh%
0.596 3.246 7.84 4.1 53.4 50.8 52 8.14%

He received relatively easy zone starts against pretty tough competition and seemingly thrived in that role without the help of that much luck. It should also be noted that 17 of his points came on the powerplay. Still, Ruutu was a pretty solid player when he was placed on Staal’s wing and seemingly did well as a goal scorer. What about this most recent season?

Ruutu in 2010-11

Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel QoT Corsi On Corsi Rel OZ% OZ% Fin GFON On-Ice Sh%
0.133 1.057 -0.11 2.7 50.8 51.9 56 10.53

Ruutu’s zone starts have gotten more difficult the last couple of seasons (albeit they are still tilted towards the opponent’s end of the ice) but his possession numbers have fallen a little and a good chunk of those assists may have something to do with that high on-ice shooting percentage. His possession numbers dropping is probably related to the tougher zone starts and he pretty much broke even in terms of shots surrendered. Also take note of how weaker the quality of teammates and competition are. The high assist numbers carried over to the powreplay, as well where he had 7 goals and 9 helpers.

With this, we could possibly draw the conclusion that Ruutu may still be able to thrive in a goal-scorers role if he was put back on Staal’s line…but he’s also done a fine job at center as well and the team is currently short on proven centers at the moment. The Canes had more bounces go their way last season when he was on the ice so that’s partially why his numbers were relatively high. That said, dismissing his success as luck isn’t completely fair, because he recorded points on 73.4% of the goals he was on-ice for at even strength and his shooting percentage wasn’t absurdly high. There’s a good chance he could continue as a center but I wouldn’t be against moving him to back to the wing on the top line if the team needs a spark or if Zach Boychuk can’t fill that role. Plus, that could possibly open up the chance for Boychuk or Zac Dalpe to play their natural position and play top-six minutes. I am for keeping him at center for now, though.

What I do think will help Ruutu is giving his line soft zone assignments because him, Skinner and Jokinen are not the best defensively and they would benefit the most from protection. Ruutu could possibly see a slight influx in his point total if this were the case but I don’t think it will be anything huge. At 28, he’s got a few more seasons where we can hope for 50-65 points out of him but I feel that’s a longshot.

Comparables:

Here, we are looking for forwards who entered the league at 20 years old with two years of experience playing in another league and had a relatively high offensive acumen. Finding close matches was a bit tough.

Player Season Age GP G A Pts
Martin Rucinsky 1999-00 28 80 25 24 49
Esa Tikkanen 1993-94 29 82 22 32 54
Martin Erat 2009-10 28 74 21 18 49
Pat Flatley 1989-90 26 62 17 32 42
Martin Lapointe 2000-01 27 82 27 30 57
Bob Probert 1991-92 26 63 20 24 44
Michal Nylander 1999-00 27 77 24 30 54
Martin Erat 2008-09 27 71 17 33 50
Alex Steen 2010-11 26 72 20 31 51
John Tucker 1992-93 28 78 17 39 56

 

Player GP G A Pts
Best (Lapointe) 82 27 30 57
Worst (Flatley) 62 17 32 42
Average 73 20 29 49

The comparables don’t project any big misfortunes for Ruutu but they aren’t exactly foreshadowing anything great either. Considering the closet comparable had a point total of 57, which is what Ruutu had last year. Most of his comparables did score at least 20 goals at a point in their late-20’s so there’s some positivity but whether or not that will happen with Ruutu will depend on what role he has next season. If he’s bumped to the first line again then 20 goals should be expected but not if he’s centering the second line.

I can’t guarantee how Ruutu will be used next season, so this projection will be very conservative. Overall, I agree with the comparables that Ruutu’s production next season isn’t going to change that much and I am fine with that. His shooting percentage has stayed pretty consistent throughout his career so his goal total isn’t going to hurt much, but I don’t think he’ll be setting a new career point total, unfortunately.

Ruutu Projection:

GP G A Pts EV PP SH S S%
75 17 27 44 12 5 0 136 12.5%

Again, this is a conservative projection and it could easily change depending on how Ruutu is utilized this season.

Quantcast