Last week, we looked at just how Ian White's play over the first half of this season was going to impact his value as a pending free agent. In Part 2, we're going to try and expand our sample size a little bit. 40 games isn't enough of a sample size to make a clear assessment of a player who's going to be looking for about $3.5 million; as Cliff Fletcher showed us, it takes about 97 games.
So in Part 2, let's go back and look at the numbers from 2008-09, when Ian White embraced the power of the moustache and really started to blossom into a player that's really worth talking about.
Part II: 2008-09 Season
I won't go into too much detail explaining the process in this post, because it's the same process I used in Part 1. Also, I should mention that I am aware that Ian White's statistics from this season are a bit skewed because of Ian White's brief yet successful stint as a forward during this season. However, given how White has built on his play from last year and is performing much better this season, I don't feel that it's worth the effort of trying to exclude those games and come up with some sort of normalized look at his stats. So on we go.
Exhibit I: Offesnsive Production
As with Part I, we start the analysis by identifying a list of players who scored within 10% of White's points per game ratio for the season. White scored at a rate of 0.37 points per game last season, which means we are looking at players who scored between 0.33 and 0.41 points per game.
If you look at this list compared to the list we came up with in Part I, you can see that there aren't as many names of players that would be considered top-flight defenceman. This list is more reflective of No. 3/No. 4 (maybe even a few No. 5) defenders, which Ian White was for much of last season (behind Kaberle, Kubina and often Luke Schenn). A similar story still emerges; more of White's points come from goals (only Campoli matches him), and some of these guys are only here because they rack up the points on the powerplay (Hamrlik, Finger, Daley and Michalek are the only ones with less).
Exhibit II: Time on Ice
Once again, at this point we'll only continue with the players who are within 15% in either direction of White's average time on ice. This makes our range from 19:43 to 26:42.
The only player we lose is ol' Splodeybones. There's not really much else to mention here; because we're looking at more 2nd and 3rd pairing D in this analysis, there is a much bigger spread in PP time. White falls somewhere in the middle.
Exhibit III: Defensive Production
As before, in order to account for differences in recording from arena to arena, we expand the acceptable range to 25%. Players needed to be within 2 of 82 and 138 hits, 85 and 143 blocked shots, and 40 - 68 giveaways
The bolded numbers are those that fall outside of 25%. We can now exclude Ballard, Campoli, Daley, Eminger, Hamrlik, Michalek, Oduya and Rivet. This time around White was much more in the middle of the pack in these stats; he's 5th overall in hits, and only Ballard, Coburn and Robidas had significantly more. He's around the middle in blocked shots, and only Finger, Hamrlik and Michalek (with an amazing 3+ average shots blocked per game) had significantly more. He's also in the middle of the giveaway list. I think this speaks to the fact that while most of these guys fall under the second pairing category, we're seeing a number of different player types here, so some people's numbers are way different from the mean.
Exhibit IV: Experience and Salary
As I noted before, part of determining a player's value for a contract is their age and experience. An older player likely receives a contract of a higher value because of UFA status, while a big portion of a younger players' contract is going to factor in the potential development of their skills. So we'll look at the ages, years of both pro and NHL experience, as well as their contract.
The numbers here are a little more all over the map than they were in Part I, so I'll move on pretty quickly. We can't continue with Doughty as a comparable because he's a rookie, and his cap number is determined largely by the CBA. There's nothing more to be said about Finger's atrocious contract, but we'll eliminate him, Robidas and Roszival because they were all Unrestricted Free Agents when they signed these deals. Carle, Coburn and Tyutin are all pretty comparable in terms of age and experience. And Enstrom stays because his age, he played a couple of years in Europe before coming over to the NHL, and most importantly he was an RFA in this season, and signed a 4 year, $15M deal in the summer. Given the objective of this whole thing, that seems relevant.
Part V: Behind the Net
It's interesting when you go through all this data, and see one or two names that keep cropping up. Matt Carle was one of the guys we identified as a comparable player in the first part, and if Fedor Tyutin had have had 4 less blocked shots in the first half of the 2009-10 season, he'd be here too. That makes them immensely important when it comes time for Burke's people and White's people to do their research for contract negotiations, they're going to come to the same conclusion that I did. Those two players represent the best barometer of White's worth at this stage in their careers, given their age, time in the league, and right down to the fact that all three have made the step up in scoring from 0.4 to 0.5 points per game.
Enstrom and Coburn are really bookends of this study; Enstrom's viewed as a more offensively minded defenceman, Coburn's viewed as a more defensively minded defenceman, their statistics both in this season and in the current one reflect that, and they get paid somewhat accordingly.
Tyutin signed his current deal upon arrival in Columbus from the Rangers. His annual cap hit is $2.844 million, but given that New York didn't really know how to use him / buried him behind Roszival and Redden, it's understandable that he's a bit lower on the pay scale.
We talked at length in Part I about how White stacks up against Carle, and just like in that study, white compares pretty favourably this year. Much like White's stats need to be taken with a grain of salt because of the time on forward, the fact that Carle was traded midway through this season, after a disastrous start in Tampa, skews the numbers a little bit.
I think at this point everyone would agree that Ian White is tremendously underpaid, and in line for a significant raise. But after really looking at what he's accompished over the past season and a half, it starts to become clear just how underpaid he is.
We identified a number of players who compare pretty well with White, and we saw that of players of a similar age and experience level, they seem to be making in the range of 3 - 4 million a season. We also found two players who have seemed to mimic White's step up in performance from 2008-09 to 2009-10. One of these players, Fedor Tyutin, makes 2.844 million and we could argue that he's underpaid too. The other , Matt Carle, makes about 3.4 million, and White performs pretty well compared to him.
I can't speak for White, White's agents, or Burke. But I'm pretty positive that most GMs in the league would look at all the data I just did, and say that White is deserving of a contract worth at least $3M, probably closer to $3.5M. If Burke came in with an offer for 3 years and $10M, I think that everybody would be pretty happy, and Ian White would remain an important member of the Blue and White for the rest of his mid 20s.