2010-11 Sabres Draft: Another Ruuttu?
Remember Christian Ruuttu?
For those post-lockout fans that don’t want to bother with Google, Ruuttu dressed for the Blue and Gold from the 1986-87 to the 1991-92 seasons. He was not renowned in this town for his hard work, but he was very popular with a particular sect of boosters for his Finnish locks of flowing blond hair. (And you gotta check out this vintage highlight reel pass to Phil Housley. Wow-ee!)
Since his retirement with the Canucks in 1995, his son, Alexander Ruuttu, is now all grown up. Alex will be an early to mid-round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
That’s right – the life of hockey may be completing another full circle in Buffalo, where the Sabres already hold the rights to Marcus Foligno, son of ex-Sabre Mike. Unlike Marcus, however, Alex plays a different sort of game than his father.
For more information on the Jokerit prospect, hit the link below.
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His points-total for Jokerit was good enough for second on the team, while he also earned a +10 rating, third best among forwards on the squad. He added a goal and an assist in six playoff games. With the Under-20 Finnish National Team, he recorded one goal and an assist in two games.
The Finnish website Leijonat.fi hosted an interview with Ruuttu, and kicked off the questions by lauding how he “has taken considerable strides during his young adolescent career.” (A sentiment that seemingly would be shared by Central Skating, who upped his European Skaters ranking from 41st to 16th by the end of the season, as noted in the card above.) A loose translation on the Q&A session:
On his growth spurt, and efforts to develop his frame – “We spent a lot of time at the gym and it helped me. This season, the results of hard work has been rewarded with ice time.”
On playing with the Finnish National Team – “The national team selection is always a big deal. For me it is a matter of honor, and reflects the fact that I’ve done the right things.”
On his promotion to the Finnish Sr. League (zero points in one game played): “I am happy with the progress and with heading in the right direction. It has been a lot of work.”
He puts in the hard work and says all the right things, but how might his skills translate to the NHL level? According to Islanders Scout Vellu Kautonen, “Ruuttu has a good frame and reads the game well.” In other words, he has the foundation that NHL development coaches look for in European prospects looking to carve their own place on North American rinks. Other Finnish sources commonly praise his confidence on the ice, faceoff ability, his smart checking game, and how he is becoming more and more difficult to play against.
His work ethic shined at the NHL Scouting Combine, where he was ranked among the leaders in several conditioning categories – far ahead of much of his North American peers.
Back to his father: Christian is currently the Head European Scout for the Phoenix Coyotes, so it’s not likely the Sabres will be able to tap his brain for more info on his son. Still, the NHL bloodline is there, and Alex is certainly heading in the right direction.
While it’s unlikely that Alex has made it very far up the North American-centric draft board in Buffalo, his progress has him ear-marked as one of those “NHL safe” picks that would be a comfortable grab for the Sabres if he slid to the 3rd or 4th round.
We’ll see if Buffalo is willing to give the Ruuttu clan a second chance.
See also: “The 2010-11 Sabres Draft, Not a Mock but a Cheat Sheet;” and “Part Two” of the same series