Detroit Red Wings: Ian White's Value to the Team Established by Face Fracture

Matt HutterAnalyst INovember 14, 2011

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 03:  Ian White #18 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena on November 3, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Calgary won the game 4-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

According to the Detroit Free Press, Red Wings defenseman Ian White will miss approximately two weeks with a fractured cheekbone.

White suffered the injury in the third period of the Wings game against the Dallas Stars after diving in front of the net to stop a shot by Dallas' Jamie Benn.

Immediately following the play, two things were evident: White's heroics thwarted a sure-fire Dallas goal, and taking a shot in the face looks as bad as it sounds—it sure made me wince.

With White on the shelf for the immediate future, it seems an appropriate time to evaluate what his absence will mean to the team.

Ironically, it is the play that leads to his absence that indicates his absence will be felt in a large way.

Ian White was brought into Detroit over the summer to provide a stop-gap for the Wings' suddenly vacant No. 2 blueline spot provided by the unexpected retirement of Brian Rafalski.

While it wasn't expected that White would be an equal replacement for Rafalski, it was hoped he'd provide at least enough defensive value and offensive upside to make up for a percentage of both the Wings would be missing with the loss of Rafalski.

So far, so good.

White was on pace to pitch in about 37 points this season, just 11 shy of what Rafalski contributed last season.

Though this injury is going to put a crimp on his ability to reach that total, White should end the year at or north of 30 points.

Additionally, his plus-eight rating is best among the Wings defensemen.

Is he Brian Rafalski?

No, no he's not.

But he is a damn good defenseman and has seemed to find quick comfort alongside Nicklas Lidstrom—not that that's a hard thing for any player to find.

Additionally, he's got a grittiness and "blood and guts" type of style that Rafalski did not have, and though stopping goals with his face isn't good for him or the team long-term, the fact that he's willing to stop goals with his face certainly is.

It is in hearing the news that the Red Wings will be without Ian White for their upcoming road trip and a little beyond that one can truly judge for themselves how valuable White has been for the Red Wings.

Speaking for myself, I winced worse when I heard how long he'd be out than I did when I saw that puck hit his face.

If we're valuing players based on pain levels, I guess that means that Ian White is a pretty valuable player to this team.


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