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McKenzie: Whitney's an attractive offensive commodities

Bob McKenzie
2/2/2010 5:22:29 PM
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It's going to get very interesting, and maybe even a little tense, on the Ray Whitney front in Carolina.

Next to Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, the Hurricanes' goal-scoring winger may be one of the more attractive offensive commodities moved at the deadline. He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, so he's technically a ''rental'' player but because he has a no-trade clause, the dynamics at work are quite interesting. For both him and the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings progressed so far along on Whitney trade talks recently that sources tell TSN that Kings' general manager Dean Lombardi was given permission by Carolina GM Jim Rutherford to talk to Whitney's agent J.P. Barry about a contract extension.

And that apparently is where things went off the rails.

Sources say Whitney was looking for a three-year deal from the Kings in exchange to waive his NTC to go to Los Angeles. The Kings apparently balked. A one year deal might be workable for L.A. but three? No chance.

Suffice to say the Hurricanes were less than amused. It's believed the Kings were prepared to part with a draft pick (not a first-rounder but perhaps a second) and a prospect (the best guess is that it's one of  Regina Pat defenceman Colten Teubert or Manchester Monarch Viacheslav Voinov), which is apparently the only solid offer the Canes have received so far for Whitney.

Some believe Whitney is simply calling his shot here, raising the price and stakes for teams that he's not really interested in playing for until the team he desires puts in a call to the Hurricanes, in which case he could conceivably be moved without a contract extension and choose his new home in the summer, perhaps even signing back in Carolina. Although many think that team he is waiting on at the deadline is none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Whitney might look pretty good patrolling Sidney Crosby's wing in the playoffs. He certainly fits the bill of what the Penguins need - a goal-scoring winger with clutch qualities and Stanley Cup experience.

But sources say Pittsburgh has yet to inquire about Whitney and even if the Penguins did, they are not likely to be able to offer up as much as Los Angeles was prepared to give Carolina.

So suddenly what looked like a no-brainer - the Hurricanes trading Whitney as a rental at the deadline for some future considerations - has taken on a much more convoluted look.

Whitney might well argue that he's only exercising his contractual right and that he's only interested in making one move - either a trade now to a team he'll play for in the next two or three seasons or just stay put and make his move in the summer. Or maybe go as a rental at the deadline to Pittsburgh, if that is indeed his preferred place to land.

The Canes may well argue that they're giving Whitney an opportunity to play in the playoffs and help Carolina's rebuilding process, especially if he as any interest in coming back and re-signing in Carolina in the summer. And if the Canes' return on a trade Whitney is prepared to accept - say Pittsburgh, for argument's sake - is far less than it would be for, say, a deal with Los Angeles, there's bound to be some hard feelings there.

So it's going to get interesting. It may even get tense, especially if other teams step up to the plate on Whitney only to find out they're going to have to provide an extension to get him to waive his NTC.

Whitney would, in a perfect world, like to use his NTC leverage to get a multi-year deal he thinks he's earned. Or at the very least, end up in precisely the spot he wants to be. The Canes, in a perfect world, would like to maximize their return on a rental player who could conceivably come back to the fold in the summer.

But with how this process has started off, it's possible neither will end up with exactly what they want.

It should be interesting.

Bob McKenzie

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