For some athletes that lack size and raw talent, proving yourself is a constant battle. You simply don’t get the benefit of the doubt or as many opportunities that bigger prospects would. If you have a bad game it’s not because you had an off night, but rather that your skill set just isn’t measuring up. This is the challenge and the stigma that has faced the Doug Fluties, Theoren Fleurys, and Muggsy Bogues of the world.
Now Ian White may not lack the physical prowess that the aforementioned players did, but at 5-10 and 191 pounds, he isn’t exactly what you would call a prototypical NHL defenseman. Combine that with a grittiness that exceeds his scoring, and although he has always been a reliable player, White is now on his fifth NHL team.
It’s hard to say exactly why he has bounced around so much. Perhaps expectations have a lot to do with things. White averaged 55 points a season during his junior career with the Swift Current Broncos, so scouts were no doubt thinking that he would be an offensive defenseman at the next level. White’s best year in the NHL, however, has only been 38 points.
After playing with three different teams in 2010-11, White seemed to have found a home last year with the Detroit Red Wings. He recorded 32 points and tied for the team lead in plus/minus with a rating of plus-23. That was a full 15 points higher than his previous career high of plus-8.
White seemed to exude confidence playing in the Motor City as he also posted a career high 196 shots which led Detroit defensemen, and ranked fourth on the entire roster.
The Wings really relied on White as one of the backbones of their team in 2011-12 as well. He saw nearly three minutes (2:59) of power play ice time per game and was second on the team in average ice time per contest with 22:59.
There is also evidence that White is becoming more offensive minded and distancing himself from his rugged style of play. For example, his blocked shots dropped significantly from 144 in 2010-11 to just 92 last year. Not only that, White was averaging 48 PIM a season in his first four full NHL campaigns, but that number drops to just a 24 PIM average over his past two years.
You could make a strong argument that a big factor to White’s solid 2011-12 has to do with the Red Wings themselves. Widely regarded as one of the best franchises in pro sports, Detroit has a reputation of getting the most out of their players. Heck, I can remember when Larry Murphy forgot how to skate in Toronto during the mid 90’s, and then he went to Detroit where they made him look like a young Doug Harvey. One thing Murphy and White have in common is that they got to play with Nicklas Lidstrom.
|58.74%||EV||5 LIDSTROM,NICKLAS - 18 WHITE,IAN|
|9.85%||EV||27 QUINCEY,KYLE - 18 WHITE,IAN|
|7.21%||PP||5 LIDSTROM,NICKLAS - 18 WHITE,IAN|
|5.20%||EV||55 KRONVALL,NIKLAS - 18 WHITE,IAN|
|3.25%||EV||52 ERICSSON,JONATHAN - 18 WHITE,IAN|
Lidstrom is a player that makes up for his partner’s mistakes and makes him look good. White was paired with the great defenseman for the majority of last season and with Lidstrom retiring, there is a strong chance his offensive production and plus/minus will take a hit. If you listen very carefully you can hear White, as well as poolies, sobbing in unison over Lidstrom’s departure.
White is a player who has made the most of all his opportunities. Even without Lidstrom, Detroit is a good destination for players to maximize their abilities. He is never going to be an impact player on your squad, but he could be an important piece to a fantasy championship puzzle.