You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS
This is late news now for everybody I’m sure, but Colin White has signed a 6-year contract ($4.75M AAV) with the Senators:
The RFA market has been strange this summer, and there was hardly ever any news about White’s upcoming contract. However, the Senators finally got a deal done, and I think everyone involved has to be pretty happy.
Because it is for six years, this contract buys out one year of unrestricted free agency, which isn’t that much, but it is better than nothing:
The 22-year-old scored 41 points in 71 games last season, and I think he is capable of more. $4.75M for that kind of production would be a bit pricey, but Ottawa is clearly betting on his talent here, and I love that they are. These next six seasons will probably be the best of his career until he turns 28, and $4.75M could easily end up being a steal if he is a very good 2nd line centre or even a fringe 1st line centre. For reference, here are the other players making $4.75M next season:
Tuch and Trocheck are certainly better than White right now, although Trocheck signed his contract before he was in his prime. I’d much rather have White over Anderson, Soderberg, and Hanzal though, even before he improves, so I’d say this is $4.75M well spent. Even in the worst case scenario, he might end up being a tad overpaid, but taking a risk on someone who was a top prospect and has shown that he can be a complete NHLer is how teams are able to smartly stay under the cap (or in Ottawa’s case, under their budget).
It would’ve been disheartening to see the Senators give White a 2-year bridge contract after talking about wanting to keep him around for a long time, especially because there’s a good chance he would’ve become even more expensive in 2021. But thankfully, Ottawa saw that he was worth keeping around for a long time and was willing to bank on his future production.
White has no signing bonuses in the contract, which doesn’t surprise me considering the team never does that. He isn’t quite in the same tier as elite young players who can essentially demand signing bonuses, but you know who can do that soon? Thomas Chabot. So although it is great to see a big deal such as this get signed, Ottawa will really have to step up their game for their best player or else other teams will.
This is still genuinely the first time in a long time that there has been very positive news about a player transaction with the Senators in regards to the future of the team. Sure, they’ve had some small wins with things such as the Zack Smith trade or the Mike Condon trade, but cheap ownership was always in the background of all of those things, and it’s been difficult to get excited about what the future of the team is going to be. The Senators haven’t given out a contract this big since Bobby Ryan’s 7-year deal in 2014, and that says a whole lot about where the organization is right now.
While we all know that this is a smart contract to sign for the Senators because of their foresight, this contract is an even bigger deal because of the massive implications it has. In the 3+ years that Pierre Dorion has been the GM, only two contracts had been longer than three years before White, and that was Zack Smith and Mike Hoffman (both four years). Even those weren’t that expensive though, as Smith’s cap hit is $3.25M and Hoffman’s is $5.1875M.
Nobody had ever really committed to the team since Ryan did in 2014 (Clarke MacArthur did too with a 5-year deal), and it is so refreshing to see White actually wanting to stay in Ottawa. Does this make players who wanted out of Ottawa bad people? No, they were justified in wanting to leave, but it’s nice that finally it appears that there are some young players that will want to stick around with this core. His comments today were encouraging in terms of how comfortable he is in Ottawa:
“We’re all really close friends... We enjoy being with each other. I don’t think there was much convincing to do… there’s a lot of great hockey players in that group."
"I truly believe in Ottawa and what we have as a young group there...It was the right move for myself and the team. I couldn’t be prouder than to be a Senator for the next six years."
If the dressing room is as close as he says it is, I hope this contract has a real domino effect with all of the other young players. Fans have been worrying about whether or not the next wave of players will even be willing to stick around if the last wave was not, but White signing for six years is a great sign. For starters, it is fantastic for the Senators image because they desperately needed somebody to be willing to stay in Ottawa for the long haul, and they finally have that. Is White a star player? No, but he will be an important player amongst their core.
The biggest domino of them all is of course Thomas Chabot, and hopefully this deal will make it easier for him to sign a long-term deal before next summer. Without him signed for the foreseeable future, this rebuild is bogus, so that is going to be a negotiation that Pierre Dorion cannot mess up.
Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and so many others did not want to play for the Senators organization anymore. For years, we have seen players leave the city because they have been unhappy with various things, and rightfully so. White is just one player, but this 6-year contract is such good news because of what it represents: momentary stability in which we can hope that the rest of the young players will follow suit.
Whether anything actually changes in the future remains to be seen, but I love being hopeful for once. The first real test comes with Chabot though, and Dorion is going to have to convince Eugene Melnyk to shell out some signing bonuses.