The Ducks acquired Ottawa Senators tough guy Jarkko Ruutu in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft Thursday. The Finnish left wing will not be able to join the team right away until he obtains a work visa.
In the meantime, Ruutu told reporters on a conference call that he’s just happy to be joining a playoff-contending team. The rebuilding Senators, mired in last place in the Eastern Conference, have also traded veteran forwards Chris Kelly and Mike Fisher in the past week.
“I’m excited to go to Anaheim,” Ruutu said. “They have a good team, a couple Finnish guys, too. … When you re out of the playoffs, you’re not really playing for anything. Suddenly you get traded to a team that’s been plaing really well lately, it’s really exciting for me.”
Known for his agitating style of play, Ruutu has 1,040 penalty minutes to go with 57 goals and 140 points In 629 career games with Vancouver, Pittsburgh and Ottawa. This season, he has two goals, 10 points and 59 penalty minutes in 50 games.
A year ago at age 34, Ruutu posted career highs of 12 goals and 26 points. He believes that his dropoff has coincided with the team’s play: “When you’re winning you do a lot of good things,” he said. “The opposite is this year — everyone’s struggling.”
Though the points would be nice, Ruutu wasn’t brought in for offense. He has played almost exclusively at left wing this season, but said he’s comfortable at both wing positions.
“Jarkko is an effective, two-way player that we feel will help us down the stretch,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who is currently scouting in Europe, said in a statement. “He’s the energetic, gritty type of addition we were looking for.”
A member of the Finnish Olympic teams in 2002, 2006 and 2010, Ruutu will be reunited with countrymen Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Toni Lydman.
“I know the guys pretty well,” Ruutu said. “I’ve played with everyone in the national team. The guys have come over here, especially Lydman and Teemu, we practice a month before every season. I played with Lydman too (for HIFK Helsinki in 1998-99) before I came over.”
Ruutu made headlines in 2009 when he was suspended by the NHL for allegedly biting the gloved thumb of then-Buffalo Sabres forward Andrew Peters. He’s also served a two-game suspension for elbowing Maxim Lapierre, who will soon be his teammate with the Ducks.
Both Lapierre and Ruutu have a reputation as agitators, and Ruutu’s best moment of agitation might have occured in this game against Dion Phaneuf: