The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/02/11 at 06:24 PM ET
Updated 13x (!!!) at 8:50 PM: The Wings have made their move in terms of attempting to replace Brian Rafalski, per MLive’s Ansar Khan
The Detroit Red Wings have signed free-agent defenseman Ian White to a two-year contract for $2.875 million per season.
Details to follow.
The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness confirms.
Update #1: If you look at his stats via the Sports Forecaster, he’s no Brian Rafalski, but at 5’10” and 191 lbs, he’s decently big, right-handed and can probably put up 35 points for the Wings. He’s also a very good skater.
Now onto the back-up goaltender’s market.
Update #2: More text from Khan:
The Detroit Red Wings have signed free-agent defenseman Ian White to a two-year contract for $2.875 million per season. The Red Wings needed a puck-moving defenseman who play the point on he power play.
White, 27, played for three teams last season (Calgary, Carolina, San Jose), picking up four goals, 22 assists and 26 points in 77 games. He was a top-four defenseman for the Sharks in the playoffs, when he registered one goal and eight assists in 17 games.
He’s small (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) but plays with a bit of an edge. He actually took a slight pay cut, having made just under $3 million last season.
1. I’m guessing that the Wings will use Commodore and Kindl as the #6/7 guys, with the pair duking it out for playing time. As I said in the comments section, if the Wings want to carry 8 defensemen they’ll have Janik as the #7/8 guy (he might be moved as he has a one-way contract), and Brendan Smith is much, much better served by being the Griffins’ #1 defenseman, playing 25-30 minutes a game, than he would be by sitting in the press box and then playing for eight minutes a night when he did play for Detroit;
2. I’m also guessing that the Wings will now move onto the back-up goaltender’s market and look to add one of Ty Conklin, Marty Turco or Ray Emery. I actually like Turco in this instance;
3. It is still entirely possible that the Wings will make a move to send Hudler packing and reinforce the forward lines, but it’s pretty evident now that with both Miller and Eaves in the fold, Draper won’t be brought back because the team needs to give Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton chances to make the team. Both would have to clear waivers to be sent down (Janik would have to clear re-entry waivers, so if he doesn’t make the team and they don’t trade him, he’ll be stuck in Grand Rapids for the season);
4. The Wings still have a boatload of cap space with which to make a move or two at the trade deadline if they feel it’s necessary to bolster the roster, which is a good thing;
5. Who would have thought that Ian White would be making LESS than Jonathan Ericsson?
Update #3: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose confirms on Twitter;
The Sporting News confirms;
Even more from Khan:
“We’ve seen him a lot in the San Jose series,’’ general manager Ken Holland told Booth Newspapers. “He can play on the power play, he’s a competitor. He’s a guy that thinks the game. He’s got the skills. We’ve got skilled defensemen in (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Niklas) Kronwall, others, and he’s comfortable playing with them.’‘
Update #3.5: So sayeth Mike Commodore:
Thanks for the welcome to Detroit. I’m Very excited. I have lots to prove, I will be ready and raring to go come september.
Update #4: More from Pleiness:
“We got a quick, close look at him during the San Jose series,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “He really played well against us. He plays physical. He’s got skill. Competes hard.”
The Wings were in need of a puck-moving defenseman who can play the point on he power play. He was a top-four defenseman for the Sharks in the playoffs. He had one goal and eight assists in 17 games. He’s also a right-handed shot and just 27 years old.
“He’s really in his prime,” Holland said. “He’s got some skill. He’s not a big player, but he competes hard and has some hockey sense. He’s got some playoff experience. He can play on the point on the power play and he’s competitive.
“He’s a right-shot defenseman,” Holland added. “We were hoping to get a right-shot defenseman in free agency.”
Update #5: No foolin,’ per Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika on Twitter:
Interesting that the Red Wings signed Ian White. He was not high on their list, from what I heard. Sorry to say, but a backup plan.
One more thought on Ian White: Maybe two years at a cap hit of $2.875 he becomes more attractive to Red Wings in this crazy market.
With Ehrhoff, Wisniewski and Bieksa off the board, Jovanovski earning over $4 million in Florida and Tomas Kaberle probably holding out for a similar salary, I would say so.
Also, per Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien:
Ian White might be part of the solution [to replacing Brian Rafalski]
Maybe the Red Wings are overpaying a bit by signing Ian White to a two-year deal worth about $5.75 million overall (or $2.875 million), but it’s not the kind of outlandish deal that will put them in a big hole in the future. Instead, the additions of White and the frugal signing of hard-hitting, red-afro’d defenseman Mike Commodore will help Detroit absorb some of the blow of losing Rafalski, even if their defense might take another step back in 2010-11.
(Unless, of course, they enjoy a certain “addition by subtraction” that comes from an aging defenseman hanging up his skates when his time had come.)
White began his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs before moving on to Calgary in 2009-10. He bounced around quite a bit last season, going from Calgary to Carolina and finally to San Jose, where he seemed to fit in very nicely. White was especially strong in the playoffs, scoring nine points in 17 postseason contests. The Sharks were probably interested in re-signing White until they traded for Brent Burns, an All-Star scoring blueliner with the Minnesota Wild. It’s likely that the Red Wings enjoyed what they saw of White during their seven-game series with the Sharks in the 2011 playoffs and decided he might be a good addition in Detroit.
Replacing Rafalski by committee
Really, the only bad contract Holland handed out was to homegrown talent Jonathan Ericsson, who simply hasn’t played well enough recently to justify his three-year, $9.75 million deal. Still, when you think about it, Ericsson and White won’t cost much more combined ($6.125 million) than Rafalski ($6 million) would have in 2011-12. The trio of Ericsson, White and Commodore probably won’t be as proficient as Rafalski is on an individual basis, but they might help the Red Wings remain playoff-relevant by committee.
That being said, the Red Wings’ future will probably come down to the usual: Lidstrom’s otherworldly play and the great work by talented forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. White simply might help to set the table for them every now and then.
That’s the concept. It’s going to be a by-committee replacement—with Ericsson stepping up and Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart expected to do more offensively as both showed they have another gear left to give last season.
Update #6: Here’s the Wings’ official release:
RED WINGS AND DEFENSEMAN IAN WHITE AGREE TO TERMS ON A TWO-YEAR DEAL
Detroit, MI… Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland announced today that the club has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with defenseman Ian White. In accordance with team policy, additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
White, 27, was originally a sixth round-round pick (#191 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2002 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He spent two seasons in the Western Hockey League and three in the American Hockey League before making his NHL debut with Toronto in the 2005-06 season. He was acquired by Calgary prior to the 2010 trade deadline, was traded to Carolina in November of 2010 and traded again prior to the 2011 trade deadline to San Jose where he spent the past two seasons.
The Steinbach, Manitoba native has played in 401 regular season NHL games and saw his first Stanley Cup Playoff action in 2011 with San Jose . White appeared in 17 playoff contests this year, tallying nine points on one goal and eight assists. His firs career playoff goal came against the Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Born Jun 4 1984 —Steinbach, MAN
Height 5.10—Weight 195—Shoots R
Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs round 6 #191 overall 2002 NHL Entry Draft
—- Regular Season—- ——Playoffs——
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2000-01 Swift Current Broncos WHL 69 12 31 43 24 19 1 4 5 6
2001-02 Swift Current Broncos WHL 70 32 47 79 40 12 4 5 9 12
2002-03 Swift Current Broncos WHL 64 24 44 68 44 4 0 4 4 0
2003-04 Swift Current Broncos WHL 43 9 23 32 32 5 1 3 4 8
2003-04 St. John’s Maple Leafs AHL 8 0 4 4 2 —————
2004-05 St. John’s Maple Leafs AHL 78 4 22 26 54 5 0 2 2 2
2005-06 Toronto Marlies AHL 59 8 29 37 42 5 1 4 5 4
2005-06 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 12 1 5 6 10 —————
2006-07 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 3 23 26 40 —————
2007-08 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 81 5 16 21 44 —————
2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 71 10 16 26 57 —————
2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 56 9 17 26 39 —————
2009-10 Calgary Flames NHL 27 4 8 12 12 —————
2010-11 Calgary Flames NHL 16 2 4 6 6 —————
2010-11 Carolina Hurricanes NHL 39 0 10 10 12 —————
2010-11 San Jose Sharks NHL 23 2 8 10 8 17 1 8 9 8
NHL Totals 401 36 107 143 228 17 1 8 9 8
Update #7: Hmmm, from Khan:
Holland said they are inclined to carry seven, but didn’t rule out the possibility of carrying eight.
Top prospect Brendan Smith would need an outstanding training camp and preseason, coupled with an injury, to make the team at the start of the season. If he’s not playing regularly in Detroit, he’ll be in Grand Rapids. But, the Red Wings at some point next season want Smith to spend some time with the team, particularly Lidstrom.
Veteran Doug Janik has a one-way contract but, as it turns out, he is not subject to re-entry waivers because he didn’t play in enough NHL games last season. So the Red Wings can send him down (if he clears waivers) and recall him without risking losing him on re-entry.
The Red Wings still need to sign a back-up goaltender. No move is imminent, but the club has been talking to Ty Conklin, one of the few remaining viable options.
Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner confirms the move:
The Detroit Red Wings’ blue-line corps and power play became a bit better Saturday when they agreed to terms with unrestricted free-agent defenseman Ian White
The contract is worth $5.75 million over two years. White’s cap hit will be $2.875 a season.
A right-handed shot who can move the puck out of his own end, White, 27, is a very good skater with strong puck-handling skills. Although not a large man—5-foot-10, 195 pounds—White has a thick body and owns a booming shot from the point. He should be a staple on Detroit’s power-play unit.
White began last season with Calgary, was traded to Carolina and then dealt to San Jose, where he helped the Sharks reach the Western Conference final.
White played in a total of 78 games for the Flames, Hurricanes and Sharks, and had four goals, 22 assists, 26 penalty minutes and was a plus-3. In 17 playoff games, he had a goal, eight assists, eight penalty minutes and was plus-3.
To become a Red Wing, White took a slight play cut. He earned $2,999,995 last season.
White was the 191st overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Maple Leafs. In 401 NHL games, White has 36 goals, 107 assists and 228 penalty minutes.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James also confirms.
Update #6.5: The Detroit News also confirms.
Update #7: DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose also confirms:
The Red Wings added a second free agent defensemen when they agreed to terms Saturday afternoon with former San Jose veteran Ian White.
The 5-foot-10 White joins former Columbus blue liner Mike Commodore to join the Red Wings since the start of the NHL’s annual free agency frenzy, which began at noon Friday.
Selected by Toronto in the sixth round of the 2002 amateur draft, White has logged 401 NHL games with the Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, and Sharks.
His new two-year contact with the Wings will reportedly pay him $1.437 million per season.
White, 27, is what the Wings are looking for in a defenseman. He’s proved to be an offensive puck-moving D-man with an incredible hard shot from the point. In the last two seasons, White has bounced from Toronto to Calgary to Carolina and then San Jose. Last season, he had four goals and 22 assists in a total of 78 games with the Flames, Hurricanes and Sharks. He also blocked 144 shots and was a plus or even in 44 of the last 53 games of the regular-season.
In his first Stanley Cup playoff season, White scored a goal and added eight assists in 17 games with the Sharks. His first career postseason goal came against the Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals series, which the Sharks won in seven games. He finished the playoffs with the sixth-most assists amongst NHL defensemen.
White gives the Red Wings seven NHL defensemen that they’ll take to training camp in September. Besides White and Commodore, the Wings also have defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl. Prospect Brendan Smith will also be given every opportunity in camp and during the exhibition season to win a spot in the Wings’ roster.
The Red Wings now have 22 players signed to approximately $55.8 million, which leaves approximately $8.4 million that the club has to work with under the salary cap.
I’m pretty sure that it’s 2 years at $2.875…Roose must have miscalculated as $1.437 is half of $2.875.
Update #8: Per the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
The Red Wings signed their second defenseman in as many days, adding Ian White this afternoon. White signed for two years and $5.75 million.
“Our defense is deeper now,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s another right-handed shot, he can play with skill players. He can help us out on the power play. He’s not big, but he’s good with the puck. He plays the type of hockey we have built our team to play. He competes hard.”
White is going to compete with Jonathan Ericsson for the last spot in the top four, alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart.
On Friday, the Wings signed Mike Commodore, who brings size and grit. They’ve not got seven defensemen under contract for next season: Lidstrom, Kronwall, Stuart, White, Ericsson, Commodore, and Jakub Kindl. Brendan Smith, the 2007 first-round pick, is also expected to compete for a spot.
Holland said he doesn’t anticipate doing anything else on defense. The Wings remain in search of a backup goaltender.
Update #9: Even more from Khan:
“As far as skaters, we’re probably done for now,’’ Holland said. “We’ll continue to explore the market. We’re comfortable with our defense, but if something came up between now and training camp we’ll definitely explore and look at it. We got nine guys that can play in the NHL. We got depth.’‘
Holland isn’t necessarily looking to make a trade between now and camp, but he didn’t rule out the possibility.
“Teams are calling with trade ideas,’’ he said.
Update #10: Great stuff about the Wings’ defensive corps from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness...
““(White’s) really in his prime,” Holland said. “He’s got some skill. He’s not a big player, but he competes hard and has hockey sense. He’s got some playoff experience. Commodore adds a completely different dimension,” Holland added. “He’s more of a stay-at-home defensive defenseman. He can kill some penalties. White is a skilled guy that can play with the skilled players in more offensive situations.
“The two guys that we’ve added has given us some depth,” Holland said.
“I would say yes for the most part,” Holland said when asked if they were done searching for free agent defensemen. “With the defensemen we’ve signed we’re going to camp with nine guys. We think we have pretty good depth and different dimensions. We’ll continue to explore over the summer,” Holland added. “Teams are calling with trade ideas. But if we go to camp with the defensemen we’ve got we’re very comfortable.”
Holland has realistic expectations of White production-wise….
“His point totals are about 30 a year so he can generate some attack from the backend,” Holland said.
And Pleiness confirms that the Wings are looking at one particular back-up goaltender:
“Obviously that’s our top priority over the next few days,” Holland said. “We’re not close on anything.”
Holland said that he had been in talks with a possible backup, but he felt that goalie was going in a different direction. A source told The Macomb Daily the Wings have been talking with Ty Conklin, one of the few remaining viable options.
“You’re always looking to upgrade,” Holland said. “Are we comfortable once we get a goalie signed going into training camp? Yes. But we’d also like to upgrade if we could.”
Update #11: Here’s Holland talking to the AP’s Larry Lage:
“Ian is a skilled defenseman, who makes tape-to-tape passes and competes hard with a good hockey sense,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Saturday, the second day of NHL free agency. “He can play on point on power play and gives us a right-handed shot.”
White has 36 goals and 143 points in 401 NHL games with San Jose, Carolina, Calgary and Toronto. The native of Manitoba had nine points in 17 postseason games with the Sharks last season in his first playoff appearance.
Detroit has retained defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson along with forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller this offseason.
The Red Wings signed defenseman Mike Commodore on Friday.
“Now that we have White, we feel really good about our depth on defense,” Holland said.
Detroit might not make another major move this offseason, but Holland does have to sign a backup goaltender - perhaps Chris Osgood - and decide whether to bring back forward Kris Draper.
Update #12: I guess we’ll just continue the discussion via the Detroit News’s John Niyo, who suggests that Holland essentially dodged a bullet by stepping aside on Friday:
Instead of over-spending to fill needs, Holland did largely what I expected him to do, re-signing Jonathan Ericsson with a hope that’ll he’ll continue to grow into a top-four role on the blueline. Up front, the Wings’ GM re-signed two of his own pending free agents, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. And the only other NHL roster addition the Wings made July 1 was signing veteran Mike Commodore, a stay-at-home defenseman who’ll add depth and a physical presence.
What about Brian Rafalski’s replacement? Well, in some respects, that’ll be Ericsson. But the Wings made another smart, solid addition Saturday, landing defenseman Ian White, who looked pretty good in a top-four role with San Jose in the playoffs. He’s 27, skates and moves the puck well and boasts a big right-handed shot that’ll help the power play. And if you’re keeping score, Ericsson and White (two years, $5.75 million) combined will make about the same $6 million a now-retired Rafalski would’ve made this season. (White even took a slight paycut from his 2010-11 salary, which makes him an unusual bargain in this marketplace.)
Now then, the fans in Detroit are accustomed to thinking much bigger when it comes to the Wings and their payroll and the Fourth of July weekend.
For years, they were able to solve the few problems they had in free agency, spending freely and, at times, recklessly. But that was before the 2004-05 lockout ushered in the salary-cap era. Now, a problem solved in free agency one year often creates a bigger problem — or two or three — elsewhere the next. And that’ll certainly be the case for some of the teams that spent wildly Friday.
Holland may not have solved all the Wings’ problems this weekend. I think he would’ve liked to unload Jiri Hudler and found another top-six forward with better wheels and more consistent motor. But there’s still most of a full season to see how it all shakes out before making an aggressive move, if needed, at the trade deadline.
In the meantime, say this about Holland: He kept his word. And his sanity.
Update #13: Two more. First, USA Today’s Kevin Allen has this to say about the Wings’ signing…
5:10 p.m.: White to Red Wings
The Red Wings were shut out of the bidding for other free agents because of the high prices. But they landed Ian White for $5.75 million over two years. He will be counted on to provide some of the offense lost when Brian Rafalski retired. Like Rafalski, he’s a puck-possession type of defenseman. The Red Wings are still looking for a backup goalie.
And here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan weighing in:
“He’s a guy who skill, and he plays with an edge,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We saw a lot of him in the playoffs against San Jose. He can play on the power play. He fits with our team. We like the depth we have on defense, adding White’s skills and the size of Commodore. We’re nine deep on defense.”
White plays a game similar to the retired Brian Rafalski; he’s a good passer and valuable on the power play. Both White and Commodore are right-handed shots, something the Wings didn’t have two days ago. White has played in 401 NHL games. He was drafted in the sixth round by Toronto in 2002. His career totals are 36 goals, 107 assists and 228 penalty minutes. He is a native of Steinbach, Manitoba.
White and Commodore join Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Doug Janik on the blue line. Holland is likely to keep seven defensemen. Smith and Janik probably will start in Grand Rapids unless there is an injury in the preseason.
Holland said he’s probably done adding skaters, but goaltending remains an issue. The Wings are debating whether to re-sign veteran Chris Osgood, or go in another direction to back up Jimmy Howard. Former Red Wing Ty Conklin remains unsigned on the free-agent market. Osgood, 38, missed most of last season after groin surgery.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.