31-Year-Old Defenseman – Free Agent
Ryan Whitney Contract Information:
Became an unrestricted free agent in July 2014.
The Panthers reassigned Whitney to AHL San Antonio on Wednesday, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Ryan Whitney.
Whitney has the skills to be a solid fantasy defenseman, but his inability to stay on the ice makes him a risky proposition for owners. With the Oilers offense, he could rack up loads of points as the quarterback of the power play. But he has only played 86 games the past two seasons combined and has missed significant chunks of three of the past four seasons. Bottom line, when healthy he can help your fantasy team, but it's definitely a buyer beware situation.
Whitney was having a solid season with Edmonton last year before suffering yet another ankle injury that ended his 2010-11 campaign after only 35 games. Whitney has always possessed offensive ability, but staying healthy seems to be a problem as he has missed approximately half the season two of the past three years. But as long as he's out on the ice, he will anchor the Oilers' top defensive unit and put up solid offensive statistics.
Whitney keeps getting shipped around the NHL as Edmonton is his third stop in the past three seasons. He once seemed destined to be an offensive force on the blue line for the Penguins before foot surgery seemed to take away that burst he once had. The Oilers obtained Whitney at the trade deadline last season in a deal involving Lubomir Visnovsky and they are relying on him to regain his touch as he will anchor their defensive corps. Unfortunately, only nine goals in his last 129 games makes him a risky pick in fantasy.
In one of the bigger trades last season Whitney was acquired from the Penguins in February. The Ducks knew they needed another top defensemen with Scott Niedermayer possibly retiring and Francois Beauchemin entering free agency. Whitney had 2 goals and 23 points last season and added another goal and five assists for the Ducks in the playoffs. He is not a top offensive defensemen like Niedermayer but he is in that next group that you need to consider when draft day comes.
Whitney had offseason surgery to repair a chronic foot problem. Why the surgery waited until August rather than right after the Cup is unknown. Regardless, Whitney will be out until midseason. After a strong 2006-07 campaign, Whitney regressed with his lowest points per game average in three NHL seasons. He makes for a good second-half play, but how much the landscape changes in the interim remains to be seen.
Savvy fantasy owners know how valuable Whitney proved to be in 2006-07. The 24-year-old defender potted nine power-play goals and finished sixth in scoring among blueliners with 59 points in 81 games. He did have offseason wrist surgery -- something to keep an eye on during training camp -- but he's expected to be fully recovered in time for the start of the regular season. He doesn't have the offensive track record as someone like Gonchar, but he's produced at every juncture of his minor-league career. Whitney moves the puck well and has good chemistry with Crosby. What better endorsement (aside from a Reebok contract) could a defenseman ask for?
Whitney had a magician-like season in 2005; first bursting onto the scene, next disappearing for the next couple months, and then resurfacing to finish the year strong. The 6-foot-4, 202-pound blueliner tallied seven assists in his first four games, and clicked with Lemieux. Then came a long drought that lasted until the Olympic break. In his final 21 contests, the 23-year-old Whitney picked up 20 points (5/15), including 10 power-play points. He'll see a ton of power-play time in 2006, and any man-advantage featuring Crosby and Malkin offers terrific upside.
The 22-year-old is not one of the Pens' top six defensemen heading into camp, but that could very easily change. In his first pro season with Wilkes-Barre in 2004-05, Whitney took over as the team's No. 1 defender as the season wore on. Blessed with good size, the 6-foot-4, 215 pound Boston University product netted six goals and 35 assists while playing in all 80 AHL contests. He's a fast-tracker, and should see time with Pittsburgh before season's end.