When it comes to trade talk, perhaps the most coveted NHL defenseman over the last three years has been Tomas Kaberle. Every deadline seemed to come with more speculation than the last, yet Kaberle remained a Toronto Maple Leaf. That changed in 2011, when he was finally shipped to the Boston Bruins on February 18th.
Kaberle wouldn't have garnered all the attention unless he was a talented player; he's one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and had earned his share of respect. Unfortunately, that respect often comes in the form of trade speculation in today's NHL.
However, Kaberle hasn't had the effect that many expected him to in Boston. With only nine regular season points and one playoff assist scored since the trade, the hype surrounding the perpetuating Tomas Kaberle trade talk hasn't amounted to tangible results, especially in the playoffs.
San Jose had been linked in part to Kaberle over the past few years; the need for a defenseman in addition to their surplus of forward assets made them a possible destination. Instead, the Sharks solved for their lack of defensive depth the same way many other teams have over the last three years. They traded for Ian White.
The oft-traded White was acquired by the San Jose Sharks on February 18th from the Carolina Hurricanes, the same day the Bruins made their move for Kaberle. White had been a target for Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson for a few years, yet Wilson watched him move from team to team until finally landing with the Sharks in 2011.
It was a bit of a risk by Wilson, who took a chance on an offensively skilled player who hadn't necessarily been a scoring force to that point in the season. With just 14 points in 57 games with Calgary and Carolina, White was having a down year by most standards and wasn't the flashy name some fans wanted to see stitched onto a teal sweater for the playoff push.
If there were critics of the move, they have been silenced. Since the trade, White has been nothing short of spectacular.
In fact, White has scored 15 points in just 26 regular season and playoff games since his first game with San Jose on February 19th. That doesn't just sound impressive, it is. It's the most scored by any defenseman traded to a playoff team at the deadline this year. Antti Niemi gets much of the credit for San Jose's hot streak to end the season, but it's no coincidence that San Jose has won 21 of the 25 games (including 3 for 3 in the playoffs) that White has appeared in since the trade.
Back end scoring was a concern for San Jose heading into the season, but White has seemed to solve that issue so far in the playoffs. Including his two assists in last night's win against Los Angeles, White has tallied five total in the series to lead the Sharks in that category. In just three playoff games, he is second amongst all NHL players in assists.
He's also been responsible defensively, an important area for a San Jose team which has struggled at times in the goal prevention department, especially shorthanded. While not a defensive stopper, his experience and ability to move the puck up ice and feed the Sharks lethal transition game gives his coaches and his teammates confidence. All in all, White has been a huge success.
That success is especially sweet considering how little San Jose gave up to get him. With nothing in terms of trade leverage, Doug Wilson grabbed White for just a second round pick, the same price it took to acquire then Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin a year prior. By giving up just the pick, Wilson was able to add to his team without subtracting from a roster that had won 10 of it's previous 13 games. At the same time, the second round pick didn't make any significant dent to the franchise's future situation. In retrospect, the price looks like a pittance next to the bounty paid for Kaberle, and is less than the packages given up for bigger names such as Bryan McCabe, Dennis Wideman and Francois Beauchemin, all of whom have fewer points since joining their respective teams than White does with San Jose.
The playoffs are far from over; San Jose still has to close out their first round series against Los Angeles, which they can accomplish with a win tomorrow in San Jose. However, today is as good of a day as any to highlight the impact that White has made on the Sharks playoff push and their current 3-1 series lead against the Kings.
Based on what we've seen so far, White will undoubtedly play a part in any victories the Sharks have going forward.