If not for his small stature, many think Ray Whitney would have been drafted higher than 23rd overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. He made his NHL debut that season on April 15 against the Calgary Flames and registered his first assist. In 1992-93, Whitney played 26 games and scored his first NHL goal on December 1 against the Oilers. In 1993-94, he joined the Sharks full-time and scored 40 points in 61 games. That year, he helped the Sharks improve 58 points as they made the playoffs for the first time in club history. In the playoffs, he scored four points in 14 games as the Sharks advanced to the second round. In the shortened 1994-95 season, he scored 25 points in 39 games. In 1995-96, he scored 41 points in 60 games. In 1996-97, he played just 12 games at the NHL level.
Whitney signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers on October 1, 1997. After only nine games with his new team, he was claimed on waivers by the Florida Panthers. Despite playing only 68 games with the Panthers, he led the team with 32 goals, 61 points and 12 power-play goals. In 1998-99, he led the Panthers with 26 goals, 38 assists, 64 points, seven power-play goals and six game-winning goals.
In 1999-00, he finished second on the team with 29 goals and 71 points behind new teammate Pavel Bure. On January 15, Whitney played in his 400th game and on February 6 he played in his first All-Star Game.
In 2000-01, he was traded to the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets for Kevyn Adams. In 46 games split between the two teams, he scored 34 points in 46 games.
Coming out of the junior ranks, Whitney was considered one of the top players in Canada, but his diminutive stature shyed off some teams. He played for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs in 1988-89 and scored 50 points as a major junior rookie. In 1989-90, he scored 57 goals and 113 points. In 1990-91, he scored 65 goals and led the league with 185 points. He was a WHL West First Team All-Star and won the league's MVP award. In the post-season, he scored a league-best 31 points in 15 games as the Chiefs won the WHL playoff championship. He and Pat Falloon then guided the Chiefs to victory at the Memorial Cup.
In 1991-92, Whitney turned pro with the Cologne Sharks of the German Bundesliga and scored nine points in ten games. He then joined the IHL's San Diego Gulls and scored 90 points in 63 games. In 1992-93, he scored 53 points in 46 games with the IHL's Kansas City Blades.
Whitney also played five games for the Canadian national team in 1991-92. He was the Edmonton Oilers' stickboy for two seasons in the 1980s. His father, Floyd, has been the Oilers' practice goalie for 17 seasons. Ray's younger brother, Dean, is a former professional hockey goaltender.
Upon his arrival in Columbus, Whitney became an offensive leader on the club and finished 12th in the league in assists in 2002-03 with 52 before signing as a free-agent with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2003.
After seeing his point totals drop off in 2003-04, Whitney was acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2005, following the 2004-05 NHL lockout season. Whitney's offensive numbers increased during the NHL regular season in 2005-06 with the Hurricanes tallying 55 points. However his largest contribution came in the 2006 playoffs, as he scored 9 goals en route to earning his first Stanley Cup.
On July 1, 2010, the veteran sniper signed with the Phoenix Coyotes as an unrestricted free agent. With the Coyotes Whitney would continue to produce offensively. In his first year with the club he would record 57 points and in 2011-12 he would defy time and notch 77 points in 82 games.
Two years later, on July 1, 2012, Whitney signed a 2-year, $9 million contract with the Dallas Stars.