The Dallas Stars will come into the 2013-14 season with a nice group of impact forwards, having added names like Erik Cole via trade last year, before bringing in folks like Tyler Seguin, via trade, and Valeri Nichushkin, via draft, over the course of this summer’s offseason.
However, one forward that the Stars are relying on to make an impact was already around heading into the shortened season. That forward is Ray Whitney. The veteran has aged like a fine wine, is on his way to the Hall of Fame at some point, and is heading into the last year of a two-year pact with the Stars.
Last year was his first year with the club, and he was limited, at least in terms of his games played. What was not limited was Whitney’s ability to make an impact on the stat sheet. When he was in the lineup, it was an expectation that he was going to find his way into the box score in some form or fashion.
He did just that, finishing the year with 29 points in 32 games. For a gentleman that will turn 42 by the time next May rolls around, that’s mighty impressive. In his last full season, in Phoenix, Whitney had gone for 77 points in 82 games. He has 1,032 points for his career, including 656 assists.
One of the questions coming into the year for the Stars, though, will be whether or not Whitney will begin to show his age. Even the great ones finally hit that wall as they get older. We likely saw it with Teemu Selanne last year. Will that year be the 2013-14 season for Whitney?
He’s a valuable asset, either way. He’s a veteran presence on and off the ice, so even if he’s not producing at a near point-per-game clip, he’s still a positive presence. But the Stars have to be wondering in the back of their mind whether or not they’ll start to see some sort of age-related regression from Whitney as the season draws nearer.