Signed late in free agency after being bought out by the New Jersey Devils, Colin White was supposed to succeed where so many other depth defensemen had failed for the Sharks since the lockout. From Niclas Wallin to Alexei Semenov to Sandis Ozolinsh, the Sharks have had a revolving door of underwhelming sixth and seventh defensemen over the past few seasons. Perhaps that's why White followed in those blueliners' footsteps as the fanbase's whipping boy for a good chunk of the year--he didn't prove to be much of an upgrade on Wallin or Kent Huskins despite a solid track record suggesting that wouldn't be the case.
Still, I don't think White was ever quite as awful as he was sometimes made out to be. The team was definitely better off with a Jason Demers/Justin Braun third pairing but White was passable as a sixth defenseman when he drew into the lineup and ate up some minutes without severely harming the team. Where he was legitimately poor was on the penalty kill where no regular Sharks defenseman was on the ice for more shots against per 60 minutes of 4v5 time than White and only Dan Boyle was on the ice for more goals against per 60. White was one of the most effective penalty killers in the league in New Jersey - among defensemen who averaged at least two minutes per game on the PK (of whom there were 94, 95 and 106 in 10-11, 09-10 and 08-09, respectively), White had the 14th, 15th and 32nd-lowest shots against rate the three seasons before this one and he finished 46th, 13th and 46th in goals against as well. I'm not really satisfied with "the Sharks' penalty kill is a vortex of suck that destroys everything half-decent in its wake" as an explanation for White's drop but I'm guessing that played a big part, along with White's age.
Colin White Statistical Overview
|Season||GP||TOI/60||Corsi Rel QoC||DZone%|
|2011-2012||54||12.99 (7th)||-0.076 (5th)||50.3% (4th)|
|Corsi Rel||PDO||+/-/60||4v5 SA/60||4v5 GA/60|
|-5.6 (5th)||984 (5th)||-0.26 (6th)||9.9 (5th)||48.8 (5th)|
Rankings are among Sharks defensemen who appeared in at least 40 games this season; 7 qualified. 4v5 rankings are among Sharks defensemen who appeared in at least 40 games this season and averaged at least a minute per game on the penalty kill; 6 qualified.
FTF Grade: C-. A lot of White's perceived struggles earlier in the season, at least at even strength, were the result of a severely depressed on-ice SV% that eventually regressed to league average as the year wore on. As advertised, White was a decent shutdown defenseman at evens with only Justin Braun being on the ice for fewer shots against per 60 minutes of 5v5 time among Sharks defensemen. Still, despite exclusively playing against opposing bottom six forwards, White wasn't able to drive the play forward relative to his teammates which should have probably been expected coming into the year based on his skillset. What wasn't expected was his poor display on the penalty kill which he was specifically brought in to help (along with seemingly every other acquisition Doug Wilson has made over the past year). He'll be a UFA on July 1st and I'd be surprised to see him back in teal next season. White wouldn't be the worst option in the world as a 7th defenseman but I'd prefer the Sharks sign more of a two-way d-man like Sami Lepisto or an own-zone stopper with penalty killing ability like Mike Lundin.