At 27 years old and already playing for his fourth NHL team, Ian White can be considered a bit of a journeyman. Now that he has landed in Detroit to play alongside arguably the greatest defenseman of all-time in Nicklas Lidstrom, that journey may be over.
White was drafted in the sixth round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had shown some offensive upside to go along with his gritty play in Swift Current of the Western Hockey League where he was voted a First Team All-Star in 2002-03. That offensive play did not develop with the Leafs, however. He was deemed to be one of the pieces mainly responsible for the Leafs' poor play and was shipped to Calgary in the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.
He hardly had time to unpack his luggage before being traded once again, this time at the trade deadline to a Cup contender in the San Jose Sharks.
For many players, that kind of disruption and movement to all different parts of the continent would make for a very difficult adjustment and would result in a drop-off in performance on the ice. That was not the case for White, however, as he increased his point-per-game ratio with each stop. He seemed to really come into his own in the 2010-2011 playoffs, where he would get a very good look at his future teammates in Motown.
Nick Lidstrom requested that Ken Holland sign a right-handed defenseman in the offseason to play alongside him and Holland produced Ian White. White took a bit of a pay cut to come to Detroit and after facing off in a grueling seven game series against those same Wings the previous postseason, he knew exactly what type of team he was joining.
Currently, White has 11 points in 17 games as a Red Wing. He has come up with some big plays already this season, including blocking a sure goal against Dallas with his face.
He missed four games with that injury and his absence was definitely noticeable. That willingness to sacrifice the body and play with some grit is something Detroit has lacked in recent years.
He can play the point on the power play, makes solid decisions with the puck, isn't a liability defensively and is only getting better. All these attributes, combined with his virtually seamless transition into Detroit's style of hockey, will go a long way towards making the Motor City the final stop of his journey.