ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Whitney's unfortunate exit from the St. Louis Blues turned into another opportunity with the Florida Panthers.
The 30-year-old defenseman, who came to the Blues in a professional tryout, was the victim of a numbers game and the obvious lowering of the NHL salary cap this season. It's something that hit many veteran players trying to find a job this year. But Whitney's strong camp in St. Louis helped him parlay that showing into a job with the Panthers, who signed him to a one-year contract on Sept. 29.
Whitney, who was in the Blues' locker room just last week, returns to face the group he barely got to know when the Panthers and Blues square off today at Scottrade Center.
"It's a business," Whitney said. "I had a real good time in camp here, a lot of good guys over there. But I was lucky enough to get signed by Florida after camp ended. I thought I had a good camp, so it's good to be here and getting to know these guys quick on the go because we're playing. It's a good group of guys and it's a fun room to be a part of."
Whitney is still adapting to the Panthers' system, but he's still grateful for the experience he earned in St. Louis' training camp.
"I think it was important I was playing exhibition games (with the Blues)," Whitney said. "I thanked (Blues general manager) Doug Armstrong when I left. It's good to be here now and hopefully we can build something here."
When the Blues let Whitney go without a contract, they didn't necessarily want to do so but had no choice. With seven defensemen already signed to one-way contracts, it was difficult to squeeze Whitney into the foray despite his solid showing, which is what the organization told him upon his exit.
"It's always good to have guys on your side. You can just tell being here that (Blues coach) Ken Hitchcock's a very good coach. He has guys organized and ready to play. That's the biggest thing," Whitney said. "Doug Armstrong's one of those guys who is real easy to talk to. Same with (Florida GM) Dale Tallon here and (head coach) Kevin Dineen. Everyone has been honest and that's all you can ask. I came here wanting to be over there, but now I'm here and I'm real happy."
Despite his short stay with the Blues, Whitney did manage to cultivate a strong rapport with players on the team. He'll keep that in mind in his return to St. Louis Saturday night. But probably not for very long.
"I knew going in it was going to be real tough. A lot of it was I needed to play exhibition games and happened to be seen by them. I knew it was important that I make a good impression," Whitney said. "I made some friends in there in a couple weeks, which is cool. It's a group that's easy to be a part of over there. After tonight, I wish them luck."
Here are the projected lineups for Saturday.
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Kris Versteeg
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes
Jesse Winchester - Scott Gomez - Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Krys Barch
Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert
Ryan Whitney - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Scratched: Drew Shore, Joey Crabb, Matt Gilroy
Injured: Nick Bjugstad (concussion), Steve Pinizzotto (hip), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Sean Bergenheim (groin).
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold - Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Adam Cracknell, Ian Cole