Senators’ Colin White Has Earned Permanent Spot as 3rd Line Centre

Fresh off the heels of a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Ottawa Senators are looking towards the end of the season and the trade deadline, likely as sellers. One player they might want to think twice about moving on from is Colin White.

Yes, it’s only been two games, but White has been great since his return from a shoulder dislocation he sustained in the preseason. Although he’s had a tough time with injury and production over the years, he’s still young, at 25 years old, and if he can regain his form, he will be a useful player for years to come.

White Can Score

Although he’s had a couple of off years, he’s scored in the past. In 2018-19, he put up 41 points in 71 games. At the time, he was only 22 years old, giving Senators brass some hope for the future.

Colin White Ottawa Senators
Colin White, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

Since then, he’s had numerous injury issues, only mustering 31 points in the two seasons since then. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get back to a productive level. On Saturday, he scored in his return, and followed that up with an assist and five shots on goal last night. If he continues to play with confidence and stays out of injury trouble, he will be a valuable asset.

White is Defensively Responsible

There’s a reason why he was thrust into a top-line role at 22 years old a few years ago. The man knows how to take care of business in his own end. It’s part of why the Senators drafted him 21st overall in 2015.

According to NHL’s Central Scouting, “Colin has a lot of hockey sense and a strong two-way game. He is a strong competitor and brings a solid effort every night. He has high end skill and makes the players around him better.”

Related: Senators’ Tim Stützle Needs to Stay at Centre

He’s one of those players you can trust on the ice. He’s also shown some physical maturation, increasing his yearly hit total every season with the big club, with 58 in 45 games last season. He could end up being part of a strong shutdown line in the future. If he chips in a little offensively as well, that’s just a bonus.

White is Loved By Teammates

When he scored in his return against the Montreal Canadiens last Saturday, you could tell it meant a lot to him. The passion and joy of hockey just emanates from the guy. He skated straight for Connor Brown to thank him for the sweet setup.

YouTube player

Brown had a lot to say when asked about White before his return, stating that, “he’s one of those glue guys, he’s a goof, and he’s also a pro, he’s fun to be around… and fun to play with.”

This goes to show that the media might view him as a reclamation project, but his teammates are excited to have him back and want him to stay. Regardless, the Senators don’t have many better options at centre.

Senators Don’t Have Better Options

When the Senators acquired Chris Tierney from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade, there was hope that he could develop into the team’s second-line centre. Four years later, he’s produced 15 points in 51 games this season, and has looked lost at times. It’s unlikely he will be returning to the team, and if he does, it will likely be in a depth role.

Shane Pinto has impressed in limited time, but with only 17 games on his NHL resume, it’s hard to count on him to be next up in line. Besides, he’s had injury trouble as well, with a shoulder injury of his own.

As stated before, White has proven himself before. He’s scored, he’s been defensively sound, and his teammates love him. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be given a chance to compete for the third-line centre role, slotting in behind Josh Norris and Tim Stützle.

White is Overpaid: So What?

The biggest knock on his career so far is the six-year, $28.5 million contract he signed after his 2018-19 breakout season. With a $4.75 million cap hit, it seems like a significant overpay for a third-line centre.

Colin White Ottawa Senators
Colin White, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

But, who cares? The Senators have trouble keeping players happy in Ottawa as it is, and solid two-way centremen are hard to find in free agency, especially ones that are young with room to grow. If he’s overpaid by a million, this team isn’t up against the cap that badly anyway.

Furthermore, if he gets back to his scoring ways, the Senators will have three solid scoring centremen up the middle, which will be a nightmare for other teams to match up with. The best teams are built up the middle and on defense.

So I think they should give him a chance, and if it doesn’t work out, maybe they can reclaim some value in a trade down the road, perhaps for some help on the right side on defense or in net. Either way, I’m excited about his return, and I believe he will bounce back and prove his doubters wrong.

Sign up for our regular 'Senators Newsletter' for all the latest.

Latest News & Highlights