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Numbers Game: Coyotes Ink Veteran Whitney

Scott Cullen
7/2/2010 11:19:46 AM
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Searching for an offensive upgrade, the Phoenix Coyotes brought in a veteran with a history of power play productivity.

Numbers Game looks at the Ray Whitney acquisition.

The Coyotes Get: LW Ray Whitney.

Whitney, 38, remains a potent offensive talent as he's scored at least 55 points in seven of the last eight seasons.

That kind of production will be most welcome in Phoenix, where Shane Doan led the Coyotes with 55 points last season.

Signed for two years and $6-million, Whitney's contract is of the "over-35" variety, so it means that it will count against the Coyotes cap for the next two years no matter what but there are two factors that make that a nearly irrelevant concern.

First off, Whitney's level of play isn't likely to dip so dramatically that he's not productive over the next two seasons. 

Even in the unlikely even that he's limited to just being a power-play specialist (having scored at least 20 power play points nine times in his career), Whitney will have value for a team that ranked 28th on the power play last season.

Secondly, there isn't even the slightest indication that the Coyotes are going to be pushing up against the salary cap in the immediate future, so real cash expenditure is the only concern for the franchise and, clearly, they are at the low end of that spectrum too, making this a worthwhile investment.

Whitney is skilled enough that he should move right into a first-line role with Phoenix, skating opposite Shane Doan and shifting Wojtek Wolski to centre.

Carolina is looking to go younger and cheaper, so Whitney's departure will create opportunities for Hurricanes forward prospects.  Zach Boychuk figures to get the first chance in a scoring role, but Drayson Bowman, Jiri Tlusty and Jerome Samson could all get consideration as well.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.



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