If you’ve been reading Bruce Garrioch’s work over the past number of days, you have assuredly seen some of his writing detailing how Senators blue-chip prospect Colin White’s NCAA career may be nearing an end.
Even though the Senators’ second first round pick from 2015 (21st overall) is close to completing his sophomore year and is eligible to play two more seasons at Boston College, speculation persists that White will forego his final two years so that he can pursue a professional playing career.
Boston College’s season could end this weekend when the Eagles take on Vermont in best of three Hockey East quarterfinals.
The lingering question is whether he will join the Senators this season or when the team breaks training camp next fall.
Pointing to the additions of players like Tommy Wingels, Viktor Stalberg, Alexandre Burrows and yes, even Chris DiDomenico, Garrioch believes that these acquisitions and the return of a Bobby Ryan or Chris Neil from their respective injuries may congest the Senators’ roster to the point where there may be no room for White. Combined with the fact that the Senators are playing must-win games and that if White plays in more than nine regular season and/or playoff games, he will lose one year of eligibility off of his entry-level contract, Garrioch reasoned that these factors are convincing enough to believe that the Senators may be better off holding back White.
Although Ryan’s return will inevitably push someone off the third line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, it’s not like the bar is set very high for White to play on the fourth line where they could use his blend of speed and hockey IQ. He certainly should offer the Senators some offensive upside over the aforementioned Wingels or Chris Kelly, but Guy Boucher may be loathe to scratch Kelly considering how he leads Senators forwards in shorthanded ice time per game.
General manager Pierre Dorion improved the team’s depth without giving up any rosterable players (sorry, Curtis Lazar), but it remains to be seen how the fourth line will look once everyone’s healthy.
To this point in the season, the performance of the fourth line has left something to be desired and conceivably, if we’re looking at White trying to provide something more than what a Kelly or Wingels is offering, it’s not like the bar is set particularly high. Most importantly, it’s not as though the Senators are some dominant powerhouse team that can shun a potential upgrade simply on account of giving preferential treatment to its vets.
This team needs to play its best available talents and if that includes White, so be it.
Even if it means burning a year on his entry-level contract, I don’t know how much it will rear its head. It’s not like I expect him to produce enough offence where it adversely puts the Senators behind the eight-ball when his ELC expires. Perhaps most importantly, White will fall well short of the 40-game threshold that would “count as an accrued year of service counting towards the seven years required to become an unrestricted free agent“.
Tough Schedule Down the Stretch
It’s a good thing the Senators are picking up points against division rivals and building themselves a cushion to work with.
As some fans have noted, once the Senators return from their three-game road trip to Dallas, Arizona and Colorado, the team faces an incredibly difficult stretch of hockey to close out the month.
Fortunately, the Senators’ margin for error is a little bit bigger than it could have been.