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It’s August 6th already, and the only thing Pierre Dorion has to do regarding the NHL roster before the summer ends is re-sign RFA Colin White. Every other player has a contract for the upcoming season, but things have been quiet regarding the Senators top centre. Lots of people have been asking about updates on him, and there hasn’t been much to talk about.
However, it’s certainly taking longer than expected.
A few days ago, Dorion had this to say when asked about the White negotiations:
“Keeping our young core for the long-term is going to be important for this team’s success, and we’re trying to work for something more long-term than short-term.”
I found it interesting that he was open about wanting to sign White to a longer-term deal because I would be all for that if it meant that his cap hit wasn’t too big. However, White might opt for a bridge contract so that he can become more established before getting his next big deal. I wouldn’t count on a 5+ year deal happening, but I’m glad that it is at least being discussed. Another quote that intrigued me was this one from Dorion:
“We don’t see anything happening in the next few weeks, but hopefully before training opens (Sept. 12), something happens.”
So I guess there won’t be any news over the next few weeks, but that is a strange thing to acknowledge, especially since these negotiations are essentially the only thing Dorion needs to be working on. He is leaving open the possibility that White will not be signed when training camp opens, and that would be the worst-case scenario. It shouldn’t be too hard to get him re-signed, and the longer his negotiations drag into the season, the bigger a distraction it will be for the team.
White is coming off of a 41-point season in 71 games, which put him into established NHLer territory, but I think he can still take another big leap forward in order to become a true top-six centre. Evolving Wild’s contract projections have him projected for a 2-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8M, which would be an absolute steal for Ottawa. He is most likely asking for more than that, and I would honestly be comfortable giving him up to around $4M per season. But the Senators know they can get him for cheaper because of his lack of experience and the fact that he is still an RFA.
Don’t forget that the Senators usually re-sign their RFAs for quite cheap, as Mike Hoffman received just a $2M deal in arbitration after scoring 27 goals and 48 points in 2015-16. Even Mark Stone was re-signed for just $3.5M in that same off-season after being the runner-up for the Calder trophy, and White isn’t on that same kind of level. There are few things the Senators do well, but re-signing their RFAs to good deals is usually
one of them.
Is there reason to worry with these White negotiations? Not entirely, although it is a bit odd that it’s even a possibility that he won’t be signed by training camp. He cannot be offer sheeted, so it’s not as if Ottawa is at risk of losing him---at least this summer. I think a deal will get done in early September because White doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage, and hopefully it will be a fair deal. White is not a star player, but he is an important part of this team moving forward, and the organization needs to treat him well, including during these contract talks.
If this drags into the middle of September, that’s certainly not a good sign for his willingness to stay here long-term, but there is still time left before fans should be panicking.