The Colin White hype train has been going strong in Ottawa ever since his phenomenal start to his rookie season at Boston College. That was in the fall of 2015, and since then, Senators fans have gotten more and more anxious to see him play. His dominance in the World Juniors only heightened the expectations on him, and it seems like he’s a lock to be in the NHL by 2017-18 full-time.
However, he could be arriving earlier than that.
There has been discussion about him joining the Senators at the end of the regular season for some time, and we may be close to finding out if Ottawa wants to go that route.
Boston College’s season could end as early as this Sunday, which is much sooner than most people thought:
Colin White's BC Eagles are now rakned 19th in the nation. Good chance his season wraps up March 12 weekend. Sens would have 15 games left.— Shawn Simpson (@TSNSimmer) February 28, 2017
Now, it’s no guarantee that the Eagles lose in the quarter finals this weekend, because it’s not as if they are a terrible team. But you can bet that Senators fans will be cheering hard for White to lose, which seems strange.
Theoretically, the Eagles season could go all the way until April 8th, which would mean White would not even play in the regular season (unless he played the following day). However, let’s assume the best case scenario and BC gets knocked out this weekend. All of a sudden Ottawa has a very interesting option.
Earlier in the season, it seemed like White was a lock to join the team at some point in March:
"There's a guy playing at Boston College (Colin White) that I would bet money will be playing with us before the end of the year" -Dorion.— SensChirp (@SensChirp) November 21, 2016
Now though, it’s not quite set in stone:
Kinda interesting that Dorion here seems to be heavily implying we won't see White in Ottawa this season pic.twitter.com/SPigXKsAs1— Nate (@NKB121) February 13, 2017
I’m not sure what changed from November until February, but I’m curious to see what Dorion does. Almost every Senators fan would assuredly want to see White in the lineup, especially with the team making a strong playoff push.
If he does come on board, then he could make a real impact with the Senators.
Now, in talking discussing White, I do have to temper people’s expectations. Yes, I am extremely excited at the idea of getting to watch him play the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, but we can’t forget that he’s still only 20 years old and has never played an NHL game.
Ottawa has recently experienced prospects failing to live up to the hype, so if anything, we should be prepared for him to struggle a bit at first.
Having said that, I do think he would be an immediate upgrade over most of the players currently in the bottom six. He has 28 points in 31 games, and last season he was even better with 43 in 37. He might not be a future 70-point centre, but he can certainly add some offensive value.
Is the Senators depth at forward better than it was last week? Yes, but it is not some juggernaut that has no holes, plus with Bobby Ryan out it looks even less impressive. Even when Ryan does return, Ottawa can make room for White. They would have to scratch two current regulars, but it would be worth it.
After I initially wrote this, Bruce Garrioch then made it seem like he may not have the best shot to get into the lineup, but my point still stands:
Garrioch on Colin White: "It's gonna be pretty tough for him to come in here and try and play on this team regularly."— Burrows-free in 2019 (@Sens_Army_) March 7, 2017
There are plenty of line combinations that can be drawn up, and nobody knows if White would be playing centre or right wing. Nevertheless, take a look at this theoretical lineup:
Senators trade acquisition from January Tommy Wingels would not even have a spot unless he would end up swapping in for Tom Pyatt occasionally. I’m not sure that’s where White would play though, because he could also be the 3rd line centre or the 3rd line right winger.
No matter what, White could make the Senators forwards even deeper. Would he be getting lots of points in a third or fourth line role? Most likely not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to make his linemates better.
Furthermore, if he is able to take Chris Kelly out of the lineup, that is addition by subtraction right there.
Like I mentioned, I would not count on him to be a superstar forward right away, and hopefully we have learned our lesson with Curtis Lazar and Cody Ceci. But he would be another valuable piece in the bottom six, giving Guy Boucher an endless amount of options for lines.
There isn’t much harm in at least giving White a shot, besides the fact that if he plays more than nine games, he will burn a year off his entry-level contract. However, if Ottawa is serious about being successful down the stretch and in the playoffs, it would be wise to see what this top prospect can bring.
Whether he plays this season or not, I can’t wait to watch him play.