Canes winger Ray Whitney said today he has not closed the door on signing a new contract with the team.
"Never. Not at all," Whitney said in an interview. "Who knows what will happen. A lot can happen."
Whitney is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said it was unlikely Whitney would be be re-signed before then. Whitney, 38, was paid $3.55 million last season.
"I have a lot of admiration for Jimmy, a lot of respect for Jimmy and what he has to do," Whitney said. "He wants to go with younger guys and transition the team. I understand that. I also understand the issue with ownership and what they're trying to do in selling part of the team, and the situation with the (salary) cap. They may not have the money out there to sign me.
"I'd rather not move my family. We love it here. We'll have to see what happens."
Whitney has met twice with Rutherford, with the second meeting last week. He would not say what the Canes have offered him, or what he is asking for, but said his play over the last five years did not warrant a significant pay cut.
"I still feel I can play at a very high level," he said.
Whitney said there may be a contract resolution by July 1. Then again, it could take longer. A year ago, Erik Cole and Chad LaRose tested the free-agent market as unrestricted free agents before re-signing with the Canes.
But the Canes were willing to spend a lot more money last year, with the intent of making a run at the Stanley Cup. The self-imposed budget this year could be no higher than $44 million.
"Right now, it's just not working," Whitney said of the negotiations. "We'll see once July 1 comes. Or July 15. Or August 1. You never know.
"As I said, a lot can happen. There are still teams out there that need guys they believe can get them over the top. We'll see."