Ottawa Senators Go For A Safe Pick With Colin White

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After selecting Thomas Chabot with the 18th overall pick, the Ottawa Senators came right back

with the 21st pick and took centre

Colin White

from the US National Development Program. While they made their selection, Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley, and Oliver Kylington were still on the board. Senators fans were eagerly hoping they would pick one of them even at 18, but instead they chose to play it safe with White at 21.

Since fans had been hoping to see Konecny for so long, they were understandably upset to see somebody taken who was unknown to the casual fan. My instant reaction was “meh,” but that’s mainly because in my opinion there were players with higher upside than him. It’s not as if I don’t think White can be an NHLer, but I would have much preferred Konecny, Merkley, or Kylington.

Having said that, it’s impossible to evaluate him right now as he’s only 18. Let’s give him a chance to play for Boston College and see how well he plays. The scouting report on him looks quite solid, although it looks like this was a classic safe pick that reminds me of the selection of Curtis Lazar.

That doesn’t mean he’s a bad pick, but I certainly hope Ottawa goes for a couple higher upside players with their second round picks tomorrow. Of course out of all the draft profiles we have done at Senshot, White is one that we did not look at.

But let’s dive deeper into who Colin White is. Here are his career stats to date:

He had a good season in the USDP, putting up a point per game which was 4th amongst draft eligible players. In the USHL he played solid as well, with 17 points in 20 games but he wasn’t quite as good as the top-tier players like Kyle Connor and Auston Matthews.

Apparently this season he fell a bit in the rankings as he was ranked at about 10 earlier in the season, but getting mono de-railed his season a bit. However, he was able to come back and still finish strong.

He wasn’t quite as impressive as some of the other first round picks this season considering he only played 20 games in the USHL, but taking into consideration that he had mono and looking into his scouting reports, he could still be a quality player.

This is from Future Considerations on his strengths:

"[White] does many of the little things a team needs to be a winner…He uses incredible straight line speed to blow by defenders on the outside and push the pace…Quick, smart, and smooth in his game…Has a strong shot with a quick release, but it is his instincts of where to get to that make him a dangerous scorer…White plays all situations…He is relied on in key situations and important face-offs, winning most of his draws…He is a safe bet to support his defense and dig in along to boards consistently…Has leadership qualities oozing out of him and was the captain of the NTDP U18’s this past season."

All of the things mentioned are exactly what Ottawa wants. I think they are trying to target more defensively responsible forwards, and White is just that. Not only is he a good two-way player, he is said to have good hockey smarts:

He also looks to be a quality character player, which is what Bryan Murray preaches all the time. He has similar traits to Lazar, in that he’s responsible and a good leader, but he may be limited offensively. However, one other scout in the Future Considerations report had this to say at the end:

"Consistently stands out as a game breaker and a player who can turn into an elite two-way player soon enough."

That’s quite a compliment, and it’s also encouraging that Sportsnet’s NHL comparable for him was Patrice Bergeron. Of course it would take a lot of work to get to Bergeron’s level, but the notion that he has that kind of capability is at least encouraging.

On his weaknesses, it looks like there isn’t too much besides his not too high ceiling:

"There is not a lot to pick apart with regards to White’s game but one thing NHL teams will likely be thinking is that his upside and offensive ability is not that high."

They also mention that he has a bit of an injury history and that he is not very big (6’0, 185 lbs), but those aren’t really weaknesses. Considering how many things White does well overall, this is a classic safe pick by Ottawa. His projection for Future Considerations is a top-nine two-way centre, which sounds fair.

Now there’s nothing wrong with becoming a third-line centre, but it may be a bit disappointing if another late first round pick turns into a quality first liner. The Senators may not need a top-six centre right now, and that’s fine. They actually need a bit of help in the bottom six for scoring, so if he helps out in a few years from now then that’s great.

I don’t expect him to turn into a star, and I will most likely have the same expectations I did for Lazar. As of now the Senators have a solid top-six group and they may not need high-end talent. At the same time, it’s nice to develop some high ceiling players, because you can always use top prospects as assets.

Many people will be upset that we lost out on Konecny, but this tweet brings up a good point:

Just because he played for the 67’s doesn’t mean he will become good and that Ottawa should’ve drafted him. We can’t totally judge White right now. There’s a chance that he takes his game to the next level and is able to be a 50+ point player in the NHL. But even if he sits in Ottawa’s bottom six, that may be okay too.

I think Ottawa should be fine with Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad as their top two centres for quite a while.

Having said that, I sincerely hope the Senators draft players with some upside tomorrow. They have two early picks at 42 and 48, and they can afford a risk. Someone like Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Jeremy Bracco or Filip Chlapik would all be risky picks but they have big ceilings.

At #21, Ottawa went the safe route, but hopefully they will get more than they asked for.

Next: NHL Draft Preview: Mitch Vande Sompel

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