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NHL Free Agency: Ray Whitney Signs With Dallas Stars

The Phoenix Coyotes leading point getter from a year ago will not be returning to the team. Ray Whitney signed a two-year, $9 million deal with the Dallas Stars Saturday.

The 40-year-old Whitney had one of the best years of his career with the Coyotes last season. Whitney recorded 24 goals and 53 assist with the Coyotes during the 2011-2012 season. He also posted a plus-26 rating, the best of his career.

It won't take long for Whitney to make his return to the ice at Arena. The Coyotes open the season against the Stars on October 13.

Earlier in the week Whitney talked to Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic saying, "Production-wise they always say the older you get, you're going to fall off. Eventually they're going to be right, but they haven't been. ... I've performed well enough the last five years to warrant a contract that's deserving of it."

It's somewhat of a risk for the Stars to sign the winger who has been in the league longer than Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekmann-Larsson has been alive. Whitney has produced at least 50-points a season since '03, but eventually he will have to slow down. And soon.

The only players to be truly productive in their 40's in NHL history are Hall of Fame names like Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe and Jacques Plante.

The Coyotes would have loved to have Whitney back and I am sure they made a solid offer but this may be for the best. $9 million for an aging winger is something the Coyotes could simply not afford if they hope to resign Shane Doan, and bring in some quality free agents. The team has a core group of young talent and should look to build on that.

While Whitney has decided to take his talents to Dallas early in free agency, Doan announced that he will wait until July 9 to sign with a team.

Mark that date on your calenders Coyote fans.

Side note: Coyotes resigned Andy Miele to a one-year, two-way contract. The financial terms have not been disclosed. Miele played in seven games for the Coyotes in 2011-2012, but had a solid 54-point season playing with the Portland Pirates of the AHL.