Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford was on 620 The Buzz this morning with Mike Maniscalco and Mark Thomas and picked up the intensity of his "war of words" so to speak regarding pending free agent Ray Whitney. At the 3:45 mark of the interview, Rutherford seemed a bit more annoyed with Whitney than in previous interviews.
"This is a tough one because we had a really good trade made for Ray just prior to the deadline that would have set us up even better for this year's draft and for the future. And he wanted to stay and he wanted to finish his career here. But we forgot to talk about the end of that comment, unless there was more money somewhere else".
Ouch. So much for a "hometown discount". The GM does not sound very happy with Whitney at the moment and appears to be stepping up his "posturing" in the media. Most fans seem to want Whitney back, but at what cost? What if the winger is demanding a three year contract, is he worth it?
Whitney's date of birth is 5/8/72 which puts him at 38 years old. While he had a decent year this past season, (21G, 37A, 58 points), his production tailed off at the end of the year as he only scored one goal in the last 21 contests. Did he run out of gas?
The team signed Rod Brind`Amour to a five year deal right after the Canes won the Cup and many figured that the former Captain would have no trouble keeping in shape during that period. But even if he was in great shape, Brind'Amour's production tailed off as he got older, to the point now where the team is considering buying out the last year of his contract.
Brind'Amour is almost two years older than Whitney and will turn 40 in August. Two years ago, the center had numbers very similar to Whitney's this season, (19G, 32A, 51 points).
Two years from now, what will Whitney's numbers look like?
According to Hockey Zone Plus, Whitney has earned a total of $29 million while playing in the NHL. But over $10 million of that fortune was earned while with the Canes during the last three years. As he approaches retirement, it only makes sense that he will try to get the longest term contract and most money that he can get.
But will that be with the Canes?
What do you think? How long of a contract should Rutherford offer to Whitney?