Ever since Ilya Kovalchuk was traded to New Jersey about a month ago, the word around the NHL was that Carolina Hurricanes winger Ray Whitney was the most valuable asset available before the trade deadline.
Jim Rutherford was asking a healthy price for the talented player, a first round and second round draft pick, (or the equivalent) but it appeared that at least Los Angeles was willing to match that offer. According to Bob McKenzie, the Kings offered up former first round pick, Colten Teubert and a second round pick for Whitney's services. Rutherford admitted bringing a deal (from a Western Conference team), to Whitney, but the winger vetoed the deal.
Bottom line, Whitney did not want to be traded.
After much anticipation from at least some of the fanbase, nothing happened with Whitney today and it seems like a rare opportunity to add a valuable prospect or two for a temporary, rental player, slipped away.
How rare was this opportunity? When was the last time an available Carolina player was valued this high at the trade deadline? When is the last time the team could have gotten a first round draft pick and more, for a rental?
First of all, it's unusual that a team is in such a poor position to be in genuine selling mode this early in March. Few teams are this low in the standings. But Carolina is in this unenviable position, and Whitney is unrestricted at year end, making him a perfect rental.
Whitney was given a no-movement clause in his contract, giving him the right to cancel any possible deal. These clauses are not unusual for top-level players but several players remove the clauses so that deals can be made in the right situation.
Obviously, that perfect situation never came up for Whitney.
In most cases, players want to play for Championships. They want to play for the Cup. They want to increase their value by playing for a winning team.
Rutherford said today that no other team offered enough for the winger, but why not take a lower value? Instead of a first and second rounder, why not just take a first, or just a second? Why not just take a young prospect?
Whitney could always be re-signed in a few short months anyway.
Some fans say that they would rather have Whitney stay here for the rest of the season, but at what cost? A valuable prospect like Teubert could end up contributing to this franchise for the next 10 years. Is losing that worth watching Ray Whitney perform for another 10 home games?
And what if Whitney walks in July? The Canes get nothing. Isn't any prospect better than nothing?
It's hard to understand why Los Angeles would be the only team in the league to offer a fair return for the most valuable asset available this trade deadline.
Now the Canes approach a possible worst case scenario for the season. They might end up playing well enough to be out of the cellar, but poorly enough not to make the playoffs. If that happens, then they would not qualify for a top level, elite draft pick.
On top of that, they end up not being able to capitalize on a top rental player's value when they have the opportunity.
Prospects and draft picks are more important then ever in this salary cap age, especially for a small market team.
How do you feel? Are you happy with the way things went with Whitney?