No. 4: Colin White (Reader rank: 5, last year: 16)
What a difference a year makes. Last June, Colin White was seen as a bit of a mystery pick that didn’t seem to have the same kind of ceiling as other guys left on the board like Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley, and Daniel Sprong. Not only that, he ranked 16th in these very same rankings by the Silver Seven staff, showing that he wasn’t seen as the high-end prospect like he is now.
During his draft eligible season, his stock took a bit of a hit because on paper he didn’t look like a first round prospect. His 54 points in 54 games with the US U-18 development team sounds good, but not when you realize that he was 6th on the team in scoring, and well behind fellow youngsters like Jack Roslovic, Matthew Tkachuk, Jeremy Bracco, and Christian Fischer. His time in the USHL didn’t appear to be any better, as he finished 12th on the team in scoring with 17 points in 20 games.
The “good news” about those stats is that White was injured for much of the season, and mono had a serious affect on his play. Whenever one discounts a players season due to injuries, it’s always hard to know whether or not we can trust that opinion. However, White put his critics to rest after having a phenomenal freshman year at Boston College.
His 43 points in 37 games was 2nd on the team, four behind Ryan Fitzgerald, who is three years older and played three more games than White. Not only that, he ranked tied for 20th in the entire NCAA in points per game (1.16), and the only 18-year old with more points than White was Brock Boeser of North Dakota.
In fact, early in the season his numbers looked even more gaudy, with his play getting compared to Jack Eichel (which was not sustainable of course). Even though he could not keep up his first half pace, he has drawn comparisons to fellow college player Dylan Larkin since he put up a similar “out of nowhere” freshman year.
Larkin scored 47 points in 35 games at the University of Michigan after a disappointing draft year, and is now a 45 point player in the NHL at age 20. It’s certainly reasonable to think that White can have that type of impact as soon as 2017-18.
It seems that over the past year, evaluations on White have changed a bit because people have seen that he can get it done at a high level while being one of the youngest players. The fact that he posted over a point per game is a good sign that he may not be the “safe” middle-six two-way centre that many people initially expected. In fact, Robert Nesso of Today’s Slapshot had this to say about White (even before his breakout season):
Much like Ottawa’s other top prospect Logan Brown, White has some fundamental skills that encourage me that he can become an NHL player. He has good speed, but he’s a centre who tough to knock off the puck so his strength is not something to worry about. An interesting quote I found from Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst is that:
The Senators have drafted many players recently who have been praised for their IQ, and White fits that model. He looks to be a centre that can be the jack of all trades, but his offensive prowess should not be underestimated either.
Plus it’s not like White is just being highly rated by the Senators organization. In The Hockey News’ most recent Future Watch, he ranked 15th amongst all prospects. White won’t be able to make an immediate impact, as he’s returning to College for one more season, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t make the Senators in 2017-18.
He is getting league-wide recognition, and don’t be surprised if he gets some votes for the Hobey Baker next season. It’s hard not to get excited about a potential future top tier centre.