Colin White impressed in his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators. He has always been a promising center prospect, but after his 2017-18 season, there were some doubts about whether or not White would ever reach the ceiling that was given to him after being drafted 21st overall in 2015. Regardless, he has always been a great 200-foot center who is hard on the forecheck and stops at nothing to win one-on-one battles.
Ever since he was drafted, White has been compared to Boston Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron. That’s a high expectation for a young player. While I don’t believe White will ever achieve what Bergeron has, I do believe he could become a very similar player in regards to his defensive play as well as his forecheck. White is the lone restricted free agent (RFA) left to sign for the Senators.
White’s next contract is important not only for the present but for the future of this team. I will be taking a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of short or long-term deals for the centerman.
A Short-Term Contract
This is the type of contract White and his camp should be looking at. At only 22 years old, White has already established himself as a main piece in Ottawa’s top-six, including time on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. It’s safe to assume White’s numbers are only going to improve if he stays within the top-six, so why not bet on himself? If he continues this trajectory, he could be looking at a big raise when he comes off a short-term deal. It’s also no surprise that the Senators have been pushing White as being one of the main pieces of this rebuild. He should be with the team long term.
So why not sign a long term deal if you’re White? Well, for starters, he has already established great chemistry with Brady Tkachuk, who we all know, should be assuming first-line duties next year. He is also likely to expand on his 16:12 average ice time, including additional time on the power play with the departures of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel. Given these circumstances, It would be in White’s best interest to sign a two or three-year deal on his next contract as he should see an expanded role in the next few seasons.
Here is a look at a few short-term comparables for White’s next deal:
- Kasperi Kapanen: three years, $3.2 million
- Alex Kerfoot: four years, $3.5 million
- JT Compher: four years, $3.5 million
- Jakub Vrana: two years, $3.35 million
- Andreas Athanasiou: two years, $3 million
Granted, all these players are older than White, but in their respective contract years, they all had similar statistics. All of them had between 0.46 and 0.57 points per game (PPG). White displayed a 0.57 PPG last year which puts him on par with this list of players.
Given this information, a two-year contract with an AAV of $3.15 million seems like a reasonable bet on a short-term deal for White.
A Long-Term Contract
Here’s where things get a little more interesting. While I highly doubt White signs a long-term contract, I do believe it would be to the Senators’ advantage to do so. As stated above, White is bound to improve over his rookie numbers. He could very well become a 60-plus point center in his prime. If general manager Pierre Dorion is able to lock up White to a long-term contract worth less than $5 million, he should definitely do so.
Obviously, at this point, we’ve figured out that a short-term contract favours White and a long-term one benefits the Senators. If Ottawa somehow manages to sign White to a six-to-eight-year deal, they will almost assuredly be saving money in the long run, which, as Senators fans know, has become a big part of the business.
Here are a few comparable contracts in recent memory for a potential long-term Colin White contract.
- Alex Tuch: seven years, $4.75 million
- Christian Dvorak: six years, $4.45 million
- Viktor Arvidsson: seven years, $4.25 million
- Alex Wennberg: six years, $4.9 million
While White might not be as established as some of these players, a long-term contract is based on potential and value. You could argue White has a higher ceiling than some of these players, but again, it’s not guaranteed a long-term contract works. As was the case with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Alexander Wennberg who signed a six-year deal worth $29.4 million back in 2017. Wennberg has quickly fallen out of favour in Columbus as he only netted two goals to go along with 23 assists last year. But back when he signed his contract, it was deemed as a steal because Wennberg had just put up 59 points through 80 games.
Vegas Golden Knight Alex Tuch would be the best comparable at this point for White. He signed a seven-year deal worth $33.25 million in Oct. 2018. Tuch and White were also the same age when they needed their new deals (22 years old). Both Tuch and White played for Boston College and were even teammates during the 2015-16 season before Tuch turned pro. In his rookie season, he put up 37 points in 78 games (0.47 points per game) and added 10 points through 20 playoff games. While White has better rookie numbers than Tuch, he was given a larger role in the lineup. Tuch just enjoyed a 52-point sophomore season and his contract is already looking like a steal.
If the Senators were to lock up White long-term, a contract in the vicinity of six years with an AAV of $4.95 million seems reasonable.
Judging by the fact that Dorion has never handed out a contract with more than four years term, we should assume White signs a short-term deal. We should expect a breakout season from the young player in the coming season. My prediction is White signs a two-year deal carrying an AAV of $3.15 million.