The Rangers are in desperate need of a reliable defenseman to shore up the bottom pairing. Right now, it looks like a competition between Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy, and neither really instills confidence in the Rangers fan base. Eminger has been steady in previous seasons, but he hasn’t found the lineup consistently so far. Gilroy has had flashes of good play, but he has too many question marks defensively to be a solid option for 10-12 minutes nightly.
We spoke about the possibility of acquiring Douglass Murray a few weeks ago, and the same requirements of potential targets applies here. The Rangers are going to look for a defenseman from a team with a surplus of guys on the blue line. They are also going to look for a player with an expiring contract. The Red Wings have nine defensemen, and two (Kent Huskins, Ian White) are on expiring contracts. Huskins doesn’t do much to address the depth issue, but White does.
White is in the final year of his deal that comes with a $2.875 million cap hit this season, and has been relatively healthy throughout his career. He’s not much of a point producer, but he’s been a steady presence on the blue line for the Wings this season. His GVT sits at 0.8 (0.9 DGVT), which isn’t exactly terrible for a bottom defenseman, and still better than the Eminger, Gilroy, and Stu Bickel trifecta.
As for his deeper metrics, White is off to a decent start this year. The 28 year old defenseman is facing the toughest competition on the Red Wings (.070 QoC), and has been okay with a -3.9 RCorsi (0.25 CorsiON). His 53.7 OZone start % seems high, but it’s actually the second lowest on Detroit. All of his metrics compare favorably to the trifecta.
Since we are victims of small sample size (14 games for White) this season, we have to look at last season as well. White finished with a 10.4 GVT (6.6 DGVT) last season, which is pretty stellar for what the Rangers would use him for. White also finished with a .061 QoC (2nd on the team), 5.7 RCorsI (13.06 CorsiON), and 57.7 OZone start %.
Side note: Not a single Red Wing defenseman has under a 50% offensive zone start (following a whistle). I find that to be absolutely amazing.
On paper, White is a decent fit for the Rangers, especially when you throw in the fact that White is a right-handed shot. He may not throw the body around much, but he’s solid positionally and is a decent skater. But it all comes down to two issues: The cost to acquire White, and the Wings desire to deal the defenseman.
Right now, Detroit is in 10th in the West, but they are tied in points with the 8th seed. There’s still way too much hockey to be played before the April 3 trade deadline to determine if the Wings will be sellers. If they slide, then Ian White may be one of the players that becomes available.