Injuries and an Emerging Market for Ian White

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 19: Defenseman Ian White  of the Calgary Flames carries the puck into the Nashville Predators zone on October 19, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)


I don’t know if Darryl Sutter tried to deal one of his extra defenders this off-season (Sarich, Staios come to mind), but I have to assume he did. Unfortunately, the market was saturated with other teams trying to dump expensive blueliners and an excess of NHL caliber guys still waiting in the unemployment line. Add in the tepid demand and you have a rather impossible task.

Not quite two months into the season and the landscape has changed. The Flames have re-upped Mark Giordano and are still provably mediocre when it comes to the offensive things. In addition, Ian White has struggled in his role as Robyn Regehr’s frequent partner and is the only blueliner who:

a.) doesn’t have a NTC and

b.) might have some value in the market

It also seems likely, given he Flames $55M in cap commitments next year and their limited investment in White (a one-year RFA contract) that he’s bound for free agency come June. In short, he’s an expendable asset.

The demand side of things has improved as well. Injuries and cruel reality have some clubs around the league re-evelauating their needs on the back-end. The Montreal Canadiens, for instance, have lost Andrei Markov for a rumored 8-12 months after yet another knee-injury. Having just traded Ryan O’Byrne to the Avalanche for magic beans, their current depth chart includes Roman Hamrlik, Hall Gill, Jaroslav Spacek (who has been a healthy scratch this year), Josh Gorges, PK Subban and AHLer Alex Picard. Maybe three of those guys are worth damn on the PP (Subban, Hamrlik and Spacek).  Other possibilities include:

– The San Jose Sharks are another team looking to firm up their blueline. After Boyle and Vlasic, things get thin in a hurry. Demers and Boyle are the PP guys, with the former several hundred yards back of the latter in terms of offensive ability.

– One of the many problems afflciting the New Jersey Devils is their lack of NHL talent on the back-end, particularly of the "PP QB" type. Rookie Matt Taormina has been their leading guy in terms of ice time with the man advantage so far. 

– The St. Louis Blues recently lost Barrett Jackman and Roman Polack to long-term injuries (fractured ankle and wrist surgey respectively) and make want to fortify their back-end in order to maintian their impressive start as the season progresses.

Of course, we can’t know the true demand around the league, nor what the potential return for a guy like Ian White may be, which is why I’ve resisted suggesting potential trade packages in this post. However, from this anglie it looks like the stars might be alligning for a White-for-a-quality-forward deal in the near future; especially if the Flames keep stumbling along.

  • icedawg_42

    So on that note what would you consider a “quality” forward of similar value to Ian White? Second liner? third?….First???
    I think we are pretty saturated with second liners.

  • Wouldn’t bother me terribly to see White go. I haven’t been particularly impressed with him this season. Not to say he’s been underwhelming, just average is all. Let’s not forget that ol’ Sudsy’s got a hard-on for defenders and veteran “talent” though.

  • icedawg_42

    Eller (Mtl), Josefson (NJ), and Tedenby (NJ). I haven’t had a chance to see these guys play, have you? If yes, are any of them feasable (or desireable) in a trade for White?

    • Eller is doing nothing in MTL. I don’t know why he’s still on the NHL roster, frankly.

      I never got to see Josefson play, so not sure on him. His underlying numbers are awful though. Tedenby is getting the Backlund treatment in NJ and has similarly good underlying numbers to the Flames rookie.

      • GermanFlame

        I realize at this point in their respective careers they aren’t legitimate scoring threats or “whatever”. I guess the questions are (in your opinion or anyone else who cares to answer the question) is their trade value equivocal with White’s given their clubs respective d-men situation (feasability) and are they overrated as prospects (desirability)?

  • PrairieStew

    I would have no concerns moving White at this point, subject to getting back something that makes the Flames better. Also, I don’t think there is any point in trading White straight up for a forward. The return would not be sufficient to make an impact on this team. We already have a surplus of good middle 6 forwards. What the Flames need to do is upgrade one of the middle 6 forwards to a top 6 type of guy. Essentially, we use White to buy the upgrade on a guy we already have.

    I also think that where we need the upgrade the most is at centre, where neither Jokinen, Stajan nor Backlund have demonstrated an ability to be a first-line centre. At least one of Iginla or Bourque should be a top line RW (hopefully both, come on Iggy!). Although he has not been his best, I still think Tanguay, along with a serviceable centre, is enough quality for a top line. Hagman is serviceable in the next line down, as is Glencross.

    I also think a centre has the most ability to impact his other linemates. No evidence on that, just the nature of the game and position.

    Of the three guys, the only one who might have any value to another team at this point, it seems to me it is Stajan. Jokinen has somehow poisoned the well out there and Backlund is still too unproven. Also, I don’t want to be moving another youth out as we will need some young talent to develop at some point and Backlund is it for now.

    So, who could we trade Stajan and White for (yes assuming Stajan would waive the NMC clause etc.)

    My first pick would be Plekanec in Montreal or Pavelski in San Jose. Good luck with that Darryl. Seriously, I could forgive at least two Staios’ if he swung that deal.

    The next pick would be Zajac in NJ. It is hard to separate his results from Parise to know if he could really generate possession though. Plus I think we would have to take more salary back from NJ given their cap situation.

    Brad Boyes would work coming out of St. Louis. They have cap space for the salary. I just doubt that they would be looking to mess up what they have going on there.

    I guess to summarize all this, possibilities exist, but the odds of Sutter actually being able to trade Ian White to upgrade are slim to none in my estimation.

    • It depends on your viewpoint I guess: does the White trade have to be the one to immediately improve the Flames, or would it be enough to simply get something back in return for an asset whose shelf life in the org is bound to be short?

      If ‘A’, then options are strictly limited. If ‘B’ then there might be something there.

      • BobB

        If Sutter is not looking for A then he has either given up on the season or is completely oblivious to the ever mounting evidence that this forward group is distinctly mediocre.

        If B – I guess a (Prospect/Draft Pick) + Remaining cap space this year = ~65 games of Ian White’s capabilities above Staios/Pardy/Brodie/Mikkelson.

        But a trade like that would be a fringe move at best. If we are only acquiring another second-third line type of prospect, the log jam continues. There are only so many minutes to go around.

        The Flames’ biggest need is a forward that has proven he can play to at least a draw against top six opposition. At least they need a prospect with a significant probablility of developing such a capability within this season or early next season. If they aren’t acquiring such a player, the team is not improving.

  • I don’t think any team would give up anything notable for a guy like White.

    At this point do you think it would be best to trade him for a pick? Maybe to MTL for Boyd & a 2nd round pick?

    White & pick/prospect to San Jose for Setoguchi?

  • BobB

    Ahhh… here in lies the problem. I seem to remember Willie Mitchell saying something along these lines:

    The big stars are getting too much money and the entry level guys are guaranteed a minimum. That squeezes out the middle guys who are being underpaid. The big guys need to earn less to make it more fair for everyone.

    Insert “commie” counter-argument here_________.

    This is true when it comes to a guy like White. There just ain’t much market demand for a poor value player who makes 3 million.

    He’s overrated, and overpaid.

    There are few GM’s who seem willing to pick up guys like that. One of whom is named Sutter.

    Realistically, I would love it if we could flip White for something useful, but we’re bloated with third liners, and White has that awful -10 beside his name right now.

    Stock is down on ol’ Whitey. I say hold.

  • PrairieStew

    The return on White at this point would not be something that would make an immediate impact. This team needs one or maybe even 2 top 6 forwards to be competitive; and he’s not going to net you a current top 6 forward. He might net you a future top 6 forward – but that guy would be 19 or 20 right now, playing in junior or an AHL rook.

    I’m kind of with Lawrence on this – I don’t think we lose anything by holding – as we get closer to the deadline bidding may go up; and we all agree his play this year has been much poorer than what he gave us last year. Perhaps he turns it around here soon and becomes a really marketable commodity.

  • PrairieStew

    Kent – well done on the analysis; I think that the Flames would have to be further out of the race before a trade to a western conference rival such as St. Louis or San Jose.

    The other factor might be salary – does anyone know if Kotalik is going to return and come off the LTIR ? I am growing increasingly pessimistic that Sutter is ever going to send Steve Staios to Abbotsford, so the trading of White might be the salary solution needed.

  • PrairieStew

    Let’s be realistic, this team is not rebuilding. This means Sutter is going to look for someone who can make an impact immediately. This would rule out trading White for a prospect, or young up-and-comer such as Eller in MTL. This team is already chock full of middle six players as Tach pointed out so again, trading White straight up for a forward doesn’t make sense either – unless a team is willing to part with a forward destined for free agency at the end of this season. The fact that the team is tight up against the cap and that they have 50 contracts makes it difficult to pull out any sort of multi-player block buster like the Phaneuf trade last year because you would need to move 1 for 1 at similar $ value.

    With Kotalik due back sometime in the near future tradinging for another forward only bloats the ranks further without moving something out, so I would think Sutter would need to package a forward in order to create space.

    To me, a move doesn’t seem very likely. For the record though, I wouldn’t mind seeing White moved, even packaged with a pick if it meant bringing in a legit top line player; preferably a center. Maybe White and a first rounder could make that happen.

  • This is true when it comes to a guy like White. There just ain’t much market demand for a poor value player who makes 3 million.

    I disagree, if only because White’s contract ends this season. Often times need will outdo efficiency in the NHL, particularly in the short-term. Plus, he’s not GROSSLY overpaid in a league that tends to overcompensate scoring from the back-end. Ed Jovonovski on the other hand…

    If Sutter is not looking for A then he has either given up on the season or is completely oblivious to the ever mounting evidence that this forward group is distinctly mediocre.

    Only in you operate from the premise that the White deal is necessarily the one that is going to fix the Flames. I don’t, frankly, because we all know he’s never going to garner that kind of return.

    I consider this possibility just one of those minor deals that may provide some incremental improvement either now or in the future. Particularly since White is going to take off come July anyways.

    • PrairieStew

      Kent wrote “Only if you operate from the premise that the White deal is necessarily the one that is going to fix the Flames. I don’t, frankly, because we all know he’s never going to garner that kind of return.

      I consider this possibility just one of those minor deals that may provide some incremental improvement either now or in the future. Particularly since White is going to take off come July anyways.”

      The Flames strength is a plethora of good middle quality players. Their weakness is a dearth of legitimate top end guys, and the ones you could argue that are in that calibre (Iginla, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff)are certainly playing in the lower end of that calibre. The only way to improve this team is to bundle two or three of our good middle quality guys together and ship them to a team that needs depth and is willing to part with a top end talent to get it.

      My problem with your proposal is not that the Flames get worse, but that one of the parts they need to bundle in order to get better is taken out of the equation, and for the kind of player whose usefulness is replicated many times over on the Flames roster already. Which means that I don’t see any realistic possibility of incremental improvement in the short term through a trade where White is the only piece moving.

      I agree you could get a piece for the future and not “waste” an asset that is likely to flee come July. I see this risk as minimal because with the Flames cap situation the cap space from White being replaced by a less expensive option holds enough value to offset the potential future benefit of a pick/prospect.

      I see White’s highest and best use at this time is part of a multi-player package going out to get a top end forward.

  • the forgotten man

    Brilliant…Daz was simply hedging on White’s ability (insert Sutter facepalm here)…that now explains why he held back the 5 bones on his contract.

    It is a truly scary place when Daz’s Strokes of Genius finally awestruck my feeble, primitive mind (insert personal facepalm here).

    • PrairieStew

      Originally I thought the $5 holdback was because of the compensation level for Restricted free agents being at $3m even. I imagined that White and his agent came in looking for multi year deal in the $3m + range and Daz said if you can get over $3m – we will take the 2 picks – a first rounder and a third rounder. I see however that to get that compensation the salary had to be $3,091,893. If White had signed somewhere else for the same – we would have recieved a second round pick only.

      All in all not a bad tactic, and it is looking like a long term deal with him maybe is not for the best anyways.

  • If White is traded, I don’t think the deal should be made with the get good quick strategy.

    The Flames are every bit as competitive in the short term without White. He’s not a difference maker, Pardy or Mikkleson can fill his shoes if need be.

    I would love to see the Flames stock the cupboard.
    Where we are lacking is in our prospects, there’s no point trying to make the team better right now with this move, and if we wait too long we’ll have lost some trade bait.

  • everton fc

    Random thoughts:

    White has value. Even at $3million. Obvious.

    He’s also -10. Sarich is +5. Could Brodie do what White’s doing for us now? Better??

    Montreal definitely needs defence. And perhaps the Sharks and Blues need depth. But to me, the Devils, Hurricanes, Sabres, Sens, Ducks, Thrashers… and perhaps the Penguins, could also use some help on the backend, as well(left out the Isles, because I think they are going to stand pat and finish last)

    We need a centre. We have five centres, Stajan, Jokinen, Backlund, Conroy and Meyer. Six when you count Morrison. If you look at this group… who would you move to upgrade?

    Jokinen would seem to be first on most people’s lists. Backlund we’d all like to keep for a while. No one’s taking Conroy, and there’s no value for Meyer, who we should keep.

    Could there be interest in Morrison? Stajan (with his NMC)? Packaged with White???

    And who do you take in return??

    Montreal doesn’t score a lot of goals. Who would they give up? Maybe Eller… Would he help us?? Now??? (He might down the road, and perhaps immediately, if given the minutes. But that’s a stretch….

    Why would we trade with the Blues, who we may be fighting with for a playoff spot come March (wishful thinking?) And who would they give up, as they, too, struggle finding the net. Especially w/Oshie out of the lineup?? Boyes would be great – but also seems to be on the downside since his 43 goals. This makes him a typical Flames pickup, of course… But how can the Blues move anyone who can potentially score goals??

    The Thrashers continue to be a team on the cusp of the playoffs… But have no depth at centre. Antropov is -13. ???

    Would the Devils move Zajac? They can’t score either….

    It’d be nice to scoop Brandon Sutter from the Canes… For White… and a centre??

    To me, if you really look at what’s possibly out there at the centre position… the picking are slim. Boyes would be a nice pick up, but do we get a ROI of 15-18 goals from a player on his down side at 28? Who knows… ??

    But I agree – shop White now. Bring Brodie up full-time and hand him the minutes. I’d be okay with this “experiment”. Stocking the cupboard… I could live with that, as well.

    But White isn’t the commodity to move if yuo want to stock the cupboard. Yet.

    That commodity is Bouwmeester.

    (And we remain stuck with Staois!)

  • icedawg_42

    Isnt he UFA at the end of this year? That will drastically drop his trade value as well I would think. so now we may be looking at “depth forward” or if we’re lucky “second round draft pick”

  • the-wolf

    Great, another former 20 goal scorer.

    Which is really all White is probably worth, we’re certainly not getting an impact player back for him.

    I’d rather just get a draft pick.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Since we took Staios of off Edmontons hands they owe us one. I wonder if they would be interested in trading down; package White and Calgary’s first rounder for Edmontons first rounder. Edmonton doesn’t need another top end forward, they need to draft a blue chip defenseman or goalie which should still be available at around the 10-12 spot where Calgary will probably end up.