There has been a lot of movement throughout the summer in the NHL. Some of it has been good, some of it created a fire storm of attention, some of it has been spectacular, and some of it has left a bit to be desired. This morning we looked at the signing of Alexei Ponikarovsky by the Redneck Maple Leafs and next up is another signing that may not be all bad but certainly isn't all good. There may even be a pattern here...
July 2, 2011 - Ian White Signs With Detroit - Winging It In Motown
You'll notice that the tone in that post is much different than the one they used just a few short days before. There is at least the understanding that while he was brought in to replace Brian Rafalski that he won't be good enough to fully replace the smooth skating offensive defenceman. The dollar figure isn't bad either as clrkaitken showed in his two part look at predicting what it would have cost the Leafs to sign White long-term.
The reason that this is a bad signing is what it represents: the continued downfall of the Detroit Red Wings. Or at least I hope so. The story of dynasties come undone is one of their best players hanging on too long or their best players being replaced by substandard versions or some combination of the two. It's hard to compare the defensive contributions of Rafalski and White since the latter has been passed around more often than the good looking cousin at a Hurricanes fans' family reunion.
However, we can look at their offensive numbers. Last season White came up short to Rafalski in a number of categories. Beyond the box cars White came up short in a number of categories. In terms of Goals Versus Threshold (GVT) 9.8 to 2.8 (combined totals for the three teams he played for in one season). If you look at points per 60 minutes of even strength time Rafalski was scoring almost a whole point higher (1.66 to 0.77). If they are counting on White to help on the powerplay then the Wings might be pretty disappointed when they look at the points per sixty minutes of powerplay time (4.28 to 1.84).
So ultimately, White doesn't match up to the needs of the Red Wings. He's a poor man's version of whoever would be a poor man's Rafalski. Will that change in Detroit when he's playing alongside guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk? The Red Wings are banking on the hope that they did enough with the $6M in savings especially since they are going with Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin in net. At least it's not Chris Osgood.