I'm kind of blown away by talk that the Carolina Hurricanes are setting themselves a budget of $44 million for their payroll in 2011, which is low-balling it significantly. Now, as I can gather, that works out to be $44 million in payroll, which is quite low, but thankfully for 2011, the Hurricanes have more back-loaded deals for their young players, like Eric Staal, and front-loaded deals for their elders, like Rod Brind'Amour. According to CapGeek's salary chart for the Hurricanes (I don't do salaries on my chart, just cap hits), they are currently sitting with a payroll of $41.9 million, which is deathly close already. This number will drastically effect how the Hurricanes are tinkered with in the Summer months, including their free agents.
Enter: Ray Whitney. Whitney is an unrestricted free agent this Summer and at 38-years old, he still seems to have plenty of life left in him to warrant a brand new deal from someone, but that someone isn't going to be the Hurricanes.
In 2010, Whitney had himself a cap hit of $3.55 million, which may have been front-loaded at the time, but was definitely worth a good chunk of change. In return, Whitney did post 21 goals and 58 points in 80 games for the Hurricanes, which was about right for the value he possesses against the salary cap. For 2011, I would be expecting that Whitney will be in the same cap hit neighbourhood for a 1-year deal, less if it was a 2-year deal, when signing with a new club and I imagine there will be some reasonable suitors for his services.
I could honestly see Whitney sign a 2-year deal worth about $2.5 million against the cap for his new team, which is looking for some Cup-winning experience, 15-20 goals a year and some decent skating speed. If I had to point to a few teams that I think would look at Whitney seriously, they would be Detroit, Ottawa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Washington. I wouldn't expect teams that are outside the bubble to really be in on Whitney, nor would I expect Whitney to want to be in on teams that aren't likely to win.