The 37-year-old Carolina Hurricanes' forward might seem old on paper, but he definitely hasn't shown any signs of it on the ice, yet. Whitney's scoring and playmaking production over the years has notched him among the 'Canes best players of the recent decade, and earned him loads of support from teammates, coaches, and fans.
Back on the 26th of January, I wrote an article going over Whitney's extensive contributions as a 'Cane and giving several reasons why he deserves some respect in Carolina, not trade rumors.
(You can read the entire article here).
However, more recent reports and internet buzzes indicate that Whitney, who has recorded 16 goals and 25 assists in 54 games played for the 'Canes, is nearly a definite to be traded. In addition, that trade will most likely come before the Olympic trade lockdown coming up in a mere 10 days.
While this move is obviously unfortunate not only for Whitney but also for the team, hopefully the 'Canes can use him to shift their age towards the early 20's and continue to prepare their "team of the future".
These latest developments have also now begun to spark the discussion of "where will he go"? While opinions vary, it seems as if there might be a few teams that could make the best use out of Whitney's short-term but immediate offensive impact that he is certain to bring, no matter where he ends up. The general requirements for this team probably would be:
A team in contention for a playoff push, or a team looking for a player to send them over the top that's already near the top of the standings.
A team looking for veterans to compliment their large array of young prospects, OR...
A team looking for a solid second or third scorer to add another face to their offense
A team outside of the Southeast Division.
So where will he end up? Hopefully, we'll soon learn to which city Ray Whitney's one-way airline ticket will be headed.
But, in the meantime, we've tracked down five teams that seem perhaps most likely to pull of a blockbuster for Whitney in the tense upcoming weeks for Carolina faithful.
Due to reports seeping out of the trade discussion, the Los Angeles Kings seem to be the most likely to end up with Whitney's services within the next month.
At the moment, Whitney would come in as the third highest player on the team in terms of total points, despite being the oldest forward by an entire four years (over 33-year-old Ryan Smyth). This could give yet another important aspect to the Kings lineup, which already features eight players who have already eclipsed the 30-point mark, led by Anze Kopitar's 61 combined points.
Whitney would also be re-acquainted with former Hurricane Justin Williams, who was dealt to LA at the 2009 trade deadline in a three player deal that eventually sent Edmonton's Eric Cole back to Raleigh. Williams was intended to supply yet another face of the future for the Kings, but has been overridden by the sudden emergence of many young prospects in a very successful season so far for Los Angeles.
In return, LA would also probably have a large selection of young, potential-laden prospects to give another dimension to the 'Canes shift from old to young, giving Carolina yet another reason to seriously consider sending Ray Whitney off to southern California.
The Penguins have also been one of the most rumored teams to be looking to acquire Whitney's services. While this may be somewhat surprising due to Pittsburgh's extreme success over the past three seasons, it's important for the Pens to add a third side to their overpowering scoring attack if they want a Cup repeat.
Whitney would enter the Penguins lineup at the moment as their third leading scorer, despite trailing Crosby by 30 and Malkin by 16 in that regard. He would add an additional "head" to the "two-headed monster" that plagues opposing goaltenders game in and game out: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
While Bill Geurin, Jordan Staal, and Sergei Gonchar have also all surpassed the 30-point mark, the acquisition of Ray Whitney might be just what Pittsburgh needs to make it back to the Cup finals.
There really isn't much to Rangers' offense besides Marian Gaborik, and if the Rangers want to push for success today and not tomorrow and make a push for the playoffs, a trade for Ray Whitney would greatly help them in achieve that goal.
The recent acquisition of the former-Calgary Flame Olli Jokinen (37 points with Calgary this season) has added a solid scorer to the Rangers linup, but besides 34-year-old Vinny Prospal (43 points), Ray Whitney would give a massive boost to the Rangers lacking scoring production.
Despite definitely entering New York as just the second or third scoring option, far behind Gaborik (boasting 34 goals and 34 assists already on the year), Whitney would be a crucial addition if the blueshirts want to turn this season into a successful one.
The Phoenix Coyotes may not be currently looking like a frontrunner in the chase for Whitney, but they definitely could become an underlying factor when the 'Canes survey their options.
Phoenix has had a successful year so far, currently sitting in the top five in the Western Conference, but an additional high-scoring forward might be just what Phoenix could use to give themselves a respectable shot at winning the conference crown.
Despite already boasting 10 players over the 20-point mark, Whitney, if traded today, would enter the 'Yotes lineup second in scoring, two points behind Shane Doan, and give the Coyotes another option to depend on as they head into spring.
Like many of the other teams interested in Whitney, Nashville is another team that's in the playoff mix for now in the Western Conference, but might need to pick up an extra spark if they want to fully go the distance.
The acquisition of Whitney would make a huge difference for the Preds, as his 41 points would top the Nashville charts as of today. They've already had six players pass the 30 point mark; on the other hand, though, the pressure-experienced Whitney might give them the superstar power they need.
One issue for Nashville is how hard he would be to trade for. Not only due they have very extensive competition, but they also might not have quite the selection of players Carolina is looking for. With Tootoo just re-signed, the available list of younger forwards is now very limited.
23-year-old Patrick Hornqvist would likely be a great addition for the 'Canes, but as he currently leads the Preds in goals and total points, he might be to valuable for "Smashville" to send away. Other than him, only a multi-player package might suit the Hurricanes at this point.
Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist for the Carolina Hurricanes. In his 17 months so far with the site, he has written over 150 articles and received over 100,000 total reads.
Visit his profile to read more.