It has been a pretty dismal season for Maple Leaf fans so far. At times they have played downright awful, and lost, and at times they have played quite well, and still lost. They probably deserve to have a better record than they do, but not a lot has gone right for them this season. There have been a few bright spots though and one is Ian White. Which of the following is not like the other?
Ian White +6 Tomas Kaberle -6 Luke Schenn -6 Garnet Exelby -7 Jeff Finger -8 Mike Komisarek -9 Francois Beauchemin -11
That list above has to be one of the strangest lists I have ever seen in hockey. I can hardly believe such a set of stats is even possible. How is it possible that six Leaf defensemen have a -6 rating or worse while White is at +6. White has to be playing with one of them every time he is on the ice so it seems really really odd that he could manage a +6 rating. Even if White was the best defenseman in the world that they rest should be pulling down his +/- rating.
There are only 18 defensemen in the NHL this year with a better +/- than White. There are only 17 defensemen in the NHL this year with more points than White’s 13. There are only 10 defensemen who have a +6 rating or better and at least 13 points. That is pretty impressive for a defenseman on the team with the worst record in hockey and one of the lowest scoring teams.
This isn’t completely new for White either. Last year he led the Leafs (tied with Ponikarovsky) with a +6 rating. Van Ryn, in just 27 games, was a +2 while all other Leaf defensemen were even at best. Kubina was -25, Schenn was -12, Kaberle was -8, and Finger was -7. Part timers Frogren and Stralman were even and -2 respectively.
Ian White was arguably the Leafs best defenseman last year once he was given the opportunity and he is certainly the Leafs best defenseman this year. He is one of the hardest workers on the team and while he doesn’t have great size he doesn’t back down from or is intimidated by physical play and will even drop the gloves from time to time. He plays well in his own zone, moves the puck well and contributes to offense. He can play in any situation, on the power play, on the penalty kill, in crucial situations late in the game. He has developed into a complete player.
Ian White is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Brian Burke needs to do everything he can to get White locked up on a long term contract.