For those who drafted Ray Whitney this year, this article is appropriately titled “Fantasy Watch;” a tribute to you who have patiently watched the Hurricanes circle the drain and Whitney struggle along with. Luckily, I’m not writing this article to commiserate.
There was plenty of reason to pick up Whitney as a 2nd wing in your fantasy league this year, having posted close to a point-per-game pace in all four of his previous campaigns with the Hurricanes. I vividly remember Whitney neck and neck in points with Eric Staal last year as the Canes fought on towards the playoffs, and it’s not to be forgotten. So far, though, he has only managed about 2/3 expected production and has already matched his worst plus/minus rating from 07-08 with a -6.
For those of you who have patiently waited out the storm (Hurricane perhaps?), there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Canes have two impressive wins in their last four games, and in those two games “The Wizard,” as Whitney is known, posted 5 points (That’s 1/4 of his total points this season). Despite a slew of injuries hampering their efforts, the Canes seem to be returning to form to some extent and that should benefit Whitney’s production.
The other side of the story, though, is that Carolina is still nowhere near a position to climb back up the standings and make a playoff run this year. What typically follows for a team in their position is the trade rumors, and that’s exactly what has already started around this Canes organization. The guys who are nearing the end of their contracts and possibly up on the trading block include Aaron Ward, Niclas Wallin, Joe Corvo, and Ray Whitney (all speculative, mind you). With a price tag of $3.55 mil, Whitney is a prime target to move, and teams are already being thrown out there as possibilities.
The prospect of being traded, of course, is new life and possibly a return to the value you expected when drafting Whitney. For those of you who do not own Whitney, there’s some chance he might have found his way to the waiver wire at 68% ownership in Yahoo! leagues and 78% in ESPN leagues. If not, it’s likely he is a buy-low trade candidate. The risk, of course, is that his production does not pick up and you get about a .7 points per game pace with a negative plus/minus rating. If he is traded or finds his scoring ways again as a Hurricane, though, you will have managed to add some cheap production to your roster.
One final note to keep in mind is that Whitney’s contract include a no-trade clause which he would have to waive to be moved. Where Whitney would or would not be interested in going is not known, but he has played for teams such as Columbus, Detroit, and Edmonton before and teams like Chicago and NY Rangers were being suggested as good fits. All of those teams offer potential for The Wizard, and an empty spot on your roster does as well.