Raleigh, NC, United States (4E Sports) – If the NHL season eventually pushes through, the Carolina Hurricanes will play without key forward Tuomo Ruutu, who recently underwent hip surgery and is expected to be out until early May.
Last year, the Hurricanes signed Ruutu to a four-year, $19 million contract extension to prevent him from entering the free-agent market.
Ruutu, a versatile forward, finished last season with 18 goals in 72 games for the Hurricanes.
Aside from Ruutu, the Hurricanes also added Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal up front.
The league and the players’ union are inching closer to a deal that would seal a new collective bargaining agreement and will end the lockout.
The two sides have met with federal mediator Friday after beginning that process with a series of meetings.
In addition to meeting separately with Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, representatives from the NHL and NHLPA did meet face-to-face Thursday for small-group discussions on the pension and hockey-related revenue issues.
The first small-group session was held in the early afternoon and the second was held in the evening.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that for a 48-game season to be played, the “puck needs to drop” by Jan. 19.
The league has already cancelled games through Jan. 14, along with the 2013 NHL All-Star Game. In total, 50.8 percent of the regular-season schedule have been scrapped.