According to CSN’s Kevin Kurz, reports have the Sharks interested in bringing current Phoenix Coyotes winger Ray Whitney back to San Jose.
Given the lengthy injury to winger Martin Havlat, and a general lack of depth at the forward position, it only makes too much sense for the Sharks to be in the market for bolstering their offense. And considering the Sharks already have a boatload of capable centers, a true winger in Whitney would be an ideal fit.
As Kurz points out, Whitney currently leads the Coyotes in points with 50. However, given his age, (Whitney will be 40 in May) and the fact he is an impending free agent, acquiring him will certainly be easier than trying to snatch away Phoenix captain Shane Doan.
Doan, 35, may not have as many points as Whitney over his career but in recent years he has been viewed as more complete player. While Doan is also an impending free agent, his “youth,” physical prowess, and contract ($4.55 M compared to Whitney’s $3.0M) ought to gain the Coyotes more in return for his services.
As for Whitney, reports have multiple teams interested in his services. Those 50 points of his this year are bound to drive up the asking price. Essentially the Sharks could be in the midst of a bidding war.
But given the fact San Jose is an older team with many elite players’ prime years running thin, it wouldn’t surprise at all if they outbid other squads for Whitney’s services. They are in a win now mode.
Furthermore, even if the Sharks knew what they could get out of Havlat, an upgrade might still be sought. With Havlat’s health and productivity in serious question, a trade of some sort appears imminent.
Now it’s not that Havlat was producing significantly below his normal levels when he got injured. He wasn’t. But at the same time he clearly was not skating at the same speed this season as he was even a year ago. Unfortunately, that speed factor has always been one of Havlat’s strengths (the phrase world class speed has been attached to his name) and the main reason the Sharks acquired him this offseason. But the lack of flashy speed this season makes one wonder if a nagging lower body injury has been hampering him this season.
If the Sharks could find a way to package a deal for Whitney without giving up any significant pieces on the current roster, their forward depth would instantly turn into a strength.
Whitney, a healthy Havlat (at some point) and a healthy James Sheppard could be essentially three brand new forwards to the lineup.
Possible forward combinations come playoffs for San Jose could look like the following:
Patrick Marleau—Joe Thornton—Joe Pavelski
Ray Whitney—Logan Couture—Ryane Clowe
James Sheppard—Michal Handzus—Martin Havlat
Jamie McGinn—Andrew Desjardins—Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester, Jim Vandermeer, Tommy Wingels, Benn Ferriero, and John McCarthy are five players who are all experienced enough to be consistent contributors at forward during the playoff run or they could all see limited or no playing time.
That’s the type of depth that one more acquisition would help bring to the San Jose table.
Plus with a player like Whitney in the fold, the Sharks would have insurance in case Havlat doesn’t return to top six form. If he does, both Clowe and Whitney have the ability to fit in on a more defensive/grinding third line style.