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February 22, 2012 | 4:07pm ET
Ruutu signs four-year extension

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed forward Tuomo Ruutu to a four-year contract extension worth $19 million.

The deal will pay Ruutu $4 million in 2012-13, and $5 million per season in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

"Players like Tuomo are extremely difficult to replace, and it is very important for our franchise to keep him here long term," said Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford. "Along with the physical elements and skill level that he brings on the ice, Tuomo is a popular leader in our locker room. We are very happy that he has committed to what we are building here, and is excited about what the future holds for the Hurricanes."

Ruutu, 29, ranks second among Hurricanes skaters in goals (17) and fourth in points (30) in 57 games this season.

The Vantaa, Finland, native was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first-round, ninth overall, of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

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