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Should The Hurricanes Re-sign Ray Whitney?

Would the Carolina Hurricanes be better off signing Ray Whitney or Matt Cullen? (photo by LTD)

On Tuesday, we spoke briefly about some updated information released regarding the Carolina Hurricanes recent dealings with Anton Babchuk and Ray Whitney, (an article I labeled as "not-breaking", which was incorrect on my part. Sorry about that.)

Since it seems that the Canes and Whitney might get together soon to discuss new contract terms, it leads to a question. Is bringing back the veteran for another year or two the best course of action for the Hurricanes? There are a few other free agents available and looking at them might make more sense.

Whitney had a decent year in 2009-10 as he scored 21 goals and picked up 37 assists in 80 games. But, "The Wizard" is 38 years old and his game figures to deteriorate a bit as he gets older. His production has slipped in recent years as his 58 points is the lowest since 2005-06 when he had 55 points, (but in only 63 games played).

The winger earned $3,550,000 in each of the last three years but probably will earn less than that in his next contract. How much less is anyone's guess, but let's take a quick look at some other free agents who look to be available on July 1st, and who could be signed at a similar rate.

Matt Cullen: C age 32, earned $2,800,000 last season, 16 goals, 32 assists, and 48 points in 81 games.

Cullen does not have the same skill level that Whitney does, but he is younger, can kill penalties, and can play center or wing. He will most likely sign for less money next season as well and could end up being a better bargain than Whitney.

Lee Stempniak: RW age 26, earned $3,500,000 last season, 28 goals, 20 assists, and 48 points in 80 games.

Stempniak will probably get a little more money than he earned last year and is certainly looking for a multi-year deal. He seems to be a player on the rise though as he scored the bulk of his goals, (14 goals in 18 games) after being traded to Phoenix. He did not score a goal in seven playoff games though.

Tomas Holmstrom: LW age 36, earned $2,250,000 last season, 25 goals, 20 assists, and 45 points in 68 games.

It's hard to believe that Holmstrom would play for anyone other than the Red Wings, but you never know. He certainly would not make the Hurricanes any younger, but his presence in front of the net could be just what the doctor ordered for the team's ailing powerplay, and his price might be reasonable.

Alex Tanguay: LW age 29, earned $2,500,000 last season, 10 goals, 27 assists, and 37 points in 80 games.

Tanguay's demise is a mystery as the one time highly heralded sniper fell off the map last season. But he would not be the first player who struggled in Tampa Bay only to make a resurgence in a more positive atmosphere. Plus, he could be signed on the cheap.

Alexander Frolov: LW age 26, earned $4,000,000 last season, 19 goals, 32 assists, and 51 points in 81 games.

Frolov fell out of favor in Los Angeles but could be a huge signing for some club. He won't come cheaply though and more than likely will be signed for more than the Canes want to spend.

Perhaps Whitney is the best option out of any of these players? Or maybe Carolina would be better off to leave this spot open for a rookie and stay completely out of the free agent market?

If you were Jim Rutherford, what would you do?