The season might be over for the Phoenix Coyotes, but we’re nowhere near done talking about them.
Between their postgame comments, which are now under investigation from the NHL, and their never ending ownership saga, it’s easy to forget that the Coyotes are going to have quite a bit to do with their roster this summer, with several veteran players, both forwards and defensemen, up for free agency.
One of those vets is Ray Whitney, who had an absolutely fantastic season this year for the Coyotes. He might have turned 40 this year, but showed no signs of slowing down, and it seems like a foregone conclusion that he’s coming back next year, whether it’s in Phoenix or with another club.
Whitney signed with the Coyotes prior to the 2010-2011 season, and has had two very successful stints with the club, but 2011-2012 was among the better performances in the league.
The Wizard posted 77 points for the Coyotes last year, by far the best on the team. His 53 assists were sixth best in the NHL and he surpassed 1,000 points for his career at the end of March.
His point totals weren’t too high in the postseason, but he made an impact nonetheless. One of his pair of goals was a game winner in overtime to give the Coyotes a Game 1 win against the Nashville Predators in the second round, while he added five assists throughout the rest of the playoffs. He was held to just one assist against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals.
Whitney is set to hit the free agent market this summer as an unrestricted free agent. As of right now, his future with the Coyotes is entirely up in the air, but he’s definitely going to test the market and should be in for a raise. He’s already made several statements indicating that he’s at the point in his career where he wants to be paid like he deserves, rather than settling.
It’s that fact that could indicate that he may be donning a new sweater in 2012-2013. Whitney made $3 million this year with the Coyotes, and could be seeking a raise from that amount. The Coyotes don’t exactly have the most money to throw around given their situation, and could end up letting Whitney walk.
Ultimately, that’s likely what is going to happen. There’s obviously a chance that he sticks around, since he’s been successful in Phoenix and they made a great run this season, but there are other clubs out there that are going to pay him. A team like the Boston Bruins could be in on Whitney, or another Stanley Cup contender looking to add a veteran piece.
But while it’s no certainty, there’s a good chance we’ve seen Whitney play his last game as a Phoenix Coyote.