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Ray Whitney will most likely be a free agent this summer

Ray Whitney

Carolina Hurricanes’ Ray Whitney skates past an Atlanta Thrashers defender in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Monday, March 29, 2010 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Crafty forward Ray Whitney refused to waive his no-trade clause during the trade deadline, making it certain that he’d finish the 2009-10 season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps the feelings of keeping “the Wizard” in Carolina aren’t mutual, though, because Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford says Whitney is likely to become an unrestricted free agent (according to TSN).

On Monday, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News Observer that he does not expect the 38-year old to re-sign with the ‘Canes prior to the July 1st deadline when Whitney can become an unrestricted free agent.

“I think it will be difficult with where he will be at, contract-wise,” Rutherford told the NewsObserver. “I expect him to go into July (and the free-agent market). It appears that’s the way it’s going to go.”

It will be interesting to see which way Whitney will want to go. He could either go the “cheap veteran on an awesome team” route if he desires another Cup or just take the most money from a wayward team like the Atlanta Thrashers or the Florida Panthers. (Just like his old teammate, Cory Stillman!)

“The Wizard” is an aging player who plays a one-dimensional game at this point in his career (apparently his “spells” don’t work as well in the defensive end). His 58-point output is his lowest total since he only had 55 in 2005-06 - and he only played 63 games that year.

Warts aside, Whitney can make plays happen, especially on the powerplay. If he goes that “cheap veteran on an awesome team” route, he could be a valuable depth forward on a good, cash-strapped team. He’s gone from “underrated” to “limited” but should still have some seekers this summer.