New Jersey beat writer Tom Gulitti reports today that the Devils have put both Trent Hunter and Colin White on waivers, with the intent of buying both out. Both remain useful NHLers, but for the Flames purposes Colin White is the more interesting target.
With the departure of Robyn Regehr, there remains a significant hole in the Flames back-end. Feaster has acquired a lot of depth defenders ranging from Clay Wilson to Chris Butler this off-season, but none of them have a history of facing the tough match-ups Robyn Regehr faced night-in, night-out.
Colin White is such a defender. The 34-year old is no spring chicken and isn’t going to put up much offense, but he’s been a hard minutes muncher for years. Last season, he saw the third hardest quality of competition on the team and had the toughest zone start out of any Devils blueliner. When Brent Sutter was in NJ, White was top-four in terms of quality of competition and had the third hardest zone start on the blueline, so the Flames current bench boss is familiar with White and his potential utility.
White’s ticket for next season is $3 million with just one year remaining on the contract, so there’s little risk in grabbing him off of waivers.
The alternative is to hope White clears waivers and is bought out. The Flames would be free to offer him a new, cheaper contract…but so would everyone else. That’s assuming no one else scoops him off of the waiver wire.
As for Trent Hunter, I actually have a lot of time for him as a middle-tier option despite his ever falling output since his 25-goal rookie season. When he’s healthy, Hunter routinely has one of the better relative possession rates on the Islanders and would probably do more numbers-wise if he had any support to speak of.
There’s a couple of reasons Hunter probably doesn’t make sense for the Flames. Firstly, the club already has some 15-one way contracts up front. Even if you assume Ivanans is done and P3L won’t play on the parent club, there’s still too many bodies jostling for too few positions. Unless someone like Nik Hagman goes away, there isn’t any room for Trent Hunter.
In addition, the big winger has struggled with injuries over his career. He hasn’t played a full season since 2007-08 and appeared in just 17 contests last year with a torn MCL.
Like White, if Hunter is indeed bought out he may make for an intriguing, lost-cost, low-risk acquisition. Again, though, Feaster would have to clear the decks a bit for a Hunter addition to make any sense.
Overall, Hunter is a potentially interesting acquisition, but White is more of a priority given the Flames needs. It will be interesting to see if either them makes it through waivers.