In a surprise move, the Dallas Stars have fired the first big shot of free agency by signing former Phoenix winger Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9 million deal.
Whitney, 40, finished 12th in the NHL last season with 77 points while helping the Coyotes reach the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
“Whitney was among the most productive players in the league last season and showed he remains extremely capable and dangerous,” Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “He’s a winner, a competitor and a leader, and we’re very excited he’ll be a Dallas Star.”
It’s a telling move from the Stars organization and new owner Tom Gaglardi. He’d made noise prior to free agency by saying his club would be aggressive in targeting players, and he’s done exactly that by offering up a large chunk of money to a player that’ll be 42 by the time his contract expires.
That said, Whitney hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down despite his advanced age. “The Wizard” has proven to be a consistent scorer in the latter half of his career — since turning 35, he’s averaged 67 points per season.
As per TSN’s Darren Dreger, Whitney’s deal includes a no-movement and modified no-trade clause (in which he can supply a 10-team list upon request.) Should also be noted $1 million of the deal is in bonuses, the other $8 million in salary.
Because Whitney is over the age of 35, the Stars will be on the hook for the entire amount of his contract.
Update: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reports Whitney’s decision was partly due to the uncertainty surrounding the Coyotes. “It was quite a bit of a factor,” Whitney said. “In Phoenix’s ability to [make an offer] as well.”