Everyone knows drafting is hard and it gets even more difficult the further you get into the draft. Though there are some interesting players out there to be selected in the late rounds. Often a prospect that is available late in the draft has numerous holes in their game or needs more time to develop. Though usually they have one or two strengths that make them intriguing to NHL teams as the draft is winding down. Colton White is one of these players. As you will read, the defender seems to have an untapped offensive game that he has sacrificed so far to learn his position and maximize his defensive qualities. Let's take a look and get to know this prospect that is projected to go late in the draft.
Who is Colton White?
Colton White is a left handed defenseman, born on 5/3/97 in London, Ontario. White is listed at 6'1", 185 lbs. according to his OHL profile page. Prior to his OHL career, White spent two seasons with the London Junior Knights Gold Minor Midget team in the AHMMPL. White would eventually be drafted in the 2nd round #22 overall by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 2013 OHL Draft. As you can see from his stats from Elite Prospects and CHL Stats, he isn't known for his offense.
Point production isn't part of his game but it is encouraging to see his numbers progress from his age 16 to 17 seasons. The jump in his estimated Time on Ice, while expected, is also good to see. According to CHL Stats, his 16.69 eTOI ranked 16th among OHL defensemen in their age 17 season with at least 50+ games played.
Finally, The Projection Project which uses NHL Equivalencies per Game in a player's draft year to project future NHL success, gives White a 23% chance of becoming a NHL player. At the NHL level they project that based off of his NHLe that he would most likely be a 2nd pair defenseman if he was to succeed. The odds are against him, but that is to be expected, especially when you factor in that he is likely to go in the later rounds of the draft.
What Others Say About Colton White
Colton White was ranked as the 128th best North American skater in the draft by Central Scouting. Craig Button, seeing more potential in him, ranked him at 81st in his April rankings. Back in October, Brock Otten of OHL Prospects had Colton White ranked as the 29th best OHL player for this year's draft. Otten had this to say about him:
Now that Darnell Nurse has returned, White's role is most likely to decrease a bit, but there's no denying how impressive the 2nd year defender has looked. He's paired with Import Gustaf Bouramman (#23) and been the rock to Bouramman's offensive freedom. He's seeing lots of time on the penalty kill and has impressed with his defensive awareness and ability to read opposing forwards. He's also shown an ability to make a good first pass too and probably has more offensive potential than he's showing right now.
Otten released his Midseason Top 30 OHL Prospects for the draft in January and had more praise for White:
White is more than what his numbers suggest. I see an incredibly raw product who has massive potential. He's an absolutely terrific skater and as he gains confidence in his ability to rush the puck, I see that becoming a big part of his game. It's a numbers game and the Hounds have an exceptionally deep defence. Eventually, he's going to be counted on to play a larger role and that's when we'll see his game grow. But with size and mobility, this young defender could be a real diamond in the rough.
I really like what I'm reading from Mr. Otten. The first thing that stands out to me is his defensive awareness, especially when it comes to allowing his partner to take risks and make sure he's in a position to defend a counter attack. It's also nice to read that he was being trusted with a big role on the penalty kill as a 2nd year player. Otten praises his defensive reads and skating which are skills that could help him carve out a NHL career, even if his offensive game, despite having potential, fails to develop. Finally, I really like reading that he has a good first pass. Being able to move the puck away from danger and help his team regain possession is a really important skill for a defender in today's NHL.
There isn't a ton of recent information out there on White but I did find this article from September 2013 which features quotes from White and his coach, Sheldon Keefe. The article is from the beginning of his OHL career and it's interesting to see how it compares to what we've read from a more recent report on his game from OHL Prospects.
"He has all of the attributes we want in our defencemen," said Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe. "He can make a pass, join the rush, and he has incredible poise."
Asked what he projects in the future for White, a six-foot, 180-pounder, Keefe didn’t hold back.
"He’s got a bright future in this league," the coach said. "And if he keeps developing, beyond this level."
White considers his skating ability and hockey sense to be among his strengths as a player.
Keefe wasn't the only person to praise White before his rookie season in 2013-14. Ryan Yessie, a scout that covers the NHL and OHL drafts for Hockey Prospect, had this to say right after the Soo selected White:
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds select D Colton White. This is a guy I've seen lots of this year. Colton will be a key PP D for SOO right away..— Ryan Yessie (@RyanHPscout) April 6, 2013
Colton is a smooth skater in all directions, Speers/White is a great open to the draft for SOO who look to have yet another solid draft.— Ryan Yessie (@RyanHPscout) April 6, 2013
White may not have stepped into a PP role in either of his first two seasons but that seems to have more to do with the depth of Sault Ste. Marie than his potential abilities. Overall, I'm really happy to read that he's earned a PK role already and is going to be a key all situation defenseman for them next year.
A Little Video
Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of video out there on White. I was able to find some clips by going through Sault Ste. Marie's game highlights but the camera didn't always catch the whole play when it came to his assists. Though, check out this impressive coast to coast goal he scored starting at the 1:42 mark (he's #6 in red) in a March 13 game.
An Opinion of Sorts
I think this is a player that would definitely be worth the Devils 6th round pick. While the Devils do have a lot of defensemen spread throughout the system, this is a guy who would likely spend another two years in junior hockey before going to the AHL. Who knows what the defense situation will be like in the organization in 2-4 years but it's never too early to start stocking up on some more defense prospects.
Based on the above reports, Colton White ticks a lot of boxes that I look for in a defender. He can skate well, he can make a smart first pass, he can read the play well, and he plays effectively on the PK. Just being able to further round out those skills may be enough to help him carve out a NHL career. If he can find a way to incorporate more offense into his game without sacrificing his defense, then his future really seems bright. At the end of the day, I think this is a solid guy to take as a lottery ticket when the draft is nearing a close.
Would you be satisfied if the Devils were to take Colton White with their 6th round pick (157th overall)? Do you think he could go even higher than that? What are your thoughts on his skill set? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!