Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/17/11 at 08:53 PM ET
There has been some speculation all week long that the Carolina Hurricanes are this close to making a deal that would send defenseman Ian White packing. One of the most popular rumours is that he’s headed to Vancouver, but what comes back this way is a mystery. The Canucks have lost seven of their defensemen to injury and they’re currently holding their blueline together with duct tape and Bondo. Although Vancouver’s front office is vehemently denying any deal with Carolina, this one is getting a hard workout on the rumor treadmill.
In my opinion, Ian White has been one of Carolina’s unsung heroes this season. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he does what he does quietly and well. He makes a lot of little plays that don’t show up in the scoresheet, but anyone who appreciates defense appreciates the little things Ian White does. He bails the out-of-position goaltender out. He protects a vulnerable post. He takes away shooting angles. This isn’t sexy stuff, but it’s good solid defense.
The Canucks, riddled with injury, are in need of a solid NHL defenseman, and Carolina may be in a position to sell. But since the Hurricanes are on the inside of the playoff bubble, they’re only going to make a deal if the return is right. Prospects and future considerations aren’t going to be enough. So what do the Nucks have to give?
White was held out of Wednesday’s loss at New Jersey. Ostensibly, he has a mild upper body injury, but the real reason is that there was a deal on the horizon. Nobody is saying anything about the details, but one has to assume that it would involve a forward coming back this way. The Nucks need to add a defenseman instead of break even. They also don’t have any cap space, so they need to do something where they give more than they get from a dollars and cents standpoint. To thicken the plot, this is their best chance to win the Cup and they don’t want to screw it up.
Ian White’s cap hit for this season is right at $3M. Even with the Nucks’ LTIR exemptions, they have no money to give. They would have to give up something like left wing Alexandre Burrows and some other stuff to make White’s prorated salary fit.
Carolina will miss White if and when he goes, but they can fill his shoes with somebody from Charlotte. Brett Carson is the current replacement, and he’ll do just fine.
There was some speculation that any deal involving White would have to happen today or not at all. The trading deadline isn’t until the 28th, but the Canucks are in a position where they have to act. They are now without the services of defsemen Alexander Edler, Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis, Andrew Alberts and now Kevin Bieksa. Perhaps a deal is already in the works and the sides are trying to iron out all of the particulars.
The Nucks are in Nashville tonight and are off tomorrow. It would be easy to make a player swap while they are in Nashville and the Hurricanes are finally back at home in Raleigh after the Circus has left town. Vancouver is off on Friday, and the Canes will be hosting the Flyers on Rod Brind’Amour sweater retirement night.
I’m not surprised at all if Burrows comes this way, which would force the reassignment of Jerome Samson to Charlotte. Carolina wins because White is scheduled to become a UFA while Burrows is under contract for two more seasons at $2M. Burrows is three years younger than Carolina winger Sergei Samsonov, who is scheduled to become a UFA and may be past his prime. Burrows also comes cheaper than Samsonov, who everybody already assumed would not be back next season.
Carolina hasn’t had a whole lot of success with Quebec-born players, so that might be taken into consideration.
The Nucks don’t want to give up their fifth leading scorer with 36 (17/19) points, but they need some healthy defense and they need it now. Carolina has some to give, and White seems like the obvious guy to go.
I expect that if there isn’t a deal by 1:00 pm eastern tomorrow, it isn’t going to happen. All of this is, of course, speculation on my part. Fueled by a lot of rumor and talk around these parts. Everyone is talking about White. The Burrows part is all me.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.