45-Year-Old Left Wing – Free Agent
Ray Whitney Contract Information:
Became an unrestricted free agent in July 2014.
Whitney announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Ray Whitney.
Whitney continued his late-career renaissance with yet another solid season last year, picking up 11 goals and 29 points in just 32 games, as he was limited with a foot injury. Skating alongside Jamie Benn, Whitney is now expected to be joined on the top line by Tyler Seguin and should continue to post excellent numbers, even at age 41.
Whitney was brought in via free agency this past summer to bolster a top-six forward group that was in serious need of upgrading. He's expected to skate on the top line alongside Jamie Benn and likely Jaromir Jagr, so there's plenty of reason to think his point production will remain strong despite his advanced age.
Whitney continued to show that he's still got it even at 39 years old. With 57 points (17 G, 40 A) in 75 games, Whitney proved to be a solid offensive option. The veteran continued to make his presence most noticeable on the power play, where he set up 23 scores. While injuries certainly become a concern at this stage of the game for a vet like Whitney, he's proven to be remarkably durable throughout his career and if that trend continues, he should be another solid, though perhaps unspectacular, source of points in 2011-12.
With Whitney, the Coyotes have a veteran presence that can score goals, which should only take some of the heat off of Shane Doan. While in Carolina, Whitney was ranked fifth among the team in points scored and third with points scored on the power play, a statistic that the team needs help with, desperately. The only question mark with Whitney is his age. Was his lower point totals last season a result of an underwhelming Carolina hockey team, or a result of Whitney possibly loosing a step? The Coyotes are banking on the former, and if they can squeeze 60+ points out of him, especially with the majority of the points coming on the power play, their offense will certainly improve. Whitney is certainly capable of that effort and much more.
With a dangerous scoring threat in Staal on the roster, someone has to take on the selfless deed of dishing the assists, right? For the Hurricanes, Whitney is the whiz in that department. With 53 helpers last season, his generosity handing over the puck led to a No. 12 ranking among all NHL skaters in assists. Furthermore, he's experienced with 17 years of service time and led by example with 77 points, playing in all 82 games of 2008-09. On the downside, he's injury prone, which might cause conservative owners to surround him with forward depth on fantasy rosters. Think high risk and high reward.
Let's talk reliability here: Whitney has missed at least 15 games in five of the last seven seasons. If you can stand that degree of uncertainty, then Whitney's your guy; he has scored 199 points in 210 games since signing with Carolina before the 2005-06 season. Keep in mind that no one enjoys a breakout season at the age of 36.
The odds and Father Time argue against a repeat of last season's results. Over the last six seasons, the 35-year-old Whitney has played 81 games twice; in the other four seasons, he's averaged 61 games. Our forecast for him assumes he'll stay healthy, but you should know that he's a definite injury risk.
Whitney's principal value is from his contribution on the power play, where he scored more than 60% of his points last season. At 34, he is beginning the declining years of productivity, but we think he can thrive a while longer within the Carolina offensive system. Expect about 0.8 points per game, and hope he stays healthy.
Whitney will probably see better offensive numbers and a worse +/- rating this season than he enjoyed with the Red Wings in the 2003-04 season. He will definitely be a first- or second-line skater, and the 'Canes will look to him for much of the team's offensive production. His health is a concern. A mid-round pick in moderate to deep leagues; a late rounder in shallow leagues.