NHL Free Agent Signings 2012: Dallas Stars Strike Bargain by Signing Ray Whitney

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NHL Free Agent Signings 2012: Dallas Stars Strike Bargain by Signing Ray Whitney
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The Dallas Stars struck gold on the first day of the NHL free-agency period by signing Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9 million deal.

At 40 years old, the former Phoenix Coyotes left winger comes at an extremely reasonable price. Thanks to his age, the Stars were able to offer him a contract less than a younger player would have commanded and didn't have to pour a massive amount of money into a long-term deal.

Fortunately for the Stars, Whitney's output doesn't match his age. A second-round pick in 1991, Whitney has registered 269 points in his last four seasons, including a 77-point campaign last season.

Sure, he's old, and this may be the last multi-year contract he receives, but the Stars are going to benefit from what Whitney will bring to the table next season. They sorely need some help on offense, and they will get just that in Whitney's playmaking and finishing ability.

Whitney had this to say about his age and production, according Yahoo! Sports' Sean Leahy:

Production-wise they always say the older you get, you're going to fall off. Eventually they're going to be right, but they haven't been. ... I've performed well enough the last five years to warrant a contract that's deserving of it.

While other teams will be trading the farm for Rick Nash, courting Alexander Semin and breaking the bank for Zach Parise, the Stars will be able to flourish behind Whitney's leadership and productivity.

For comparison purposes, Semin has put up 271 points over the last four seasons, just two more than Whitney. Semin is going to make a lot more money and get signed for a lot more years than Whitney, and rightfully so, as he is younger, but Whitney comes at a perfect price for the struggling Stars.

He'll have an impact off the ice too. The Stars have missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, and will likely look to Whitney to guide the younger players on the roster like Eric Nystrom and Jamie Benn.

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The value of a veteran mentor cannot be understated. Whitney is a consummate professional and a role model for the less experienced players that he will be skating alongside.

Dallas got the most bang for their buck out of any team that has made a signing in free agency thus far, but only time will tell how smart this move was for the Stars.

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