So Colin White cleared waivers today, which is nothing if not confusing. I grant you that the guy isn't getting any younger, and at thirty-three, there's no way that he was going to be part of the long-term solution in Edmonton, but Colin White is in fact a pretty good hockey player. In each of the last two seasons, Colin White has taken the most defensive zone draws among Devils' defenders, been among the top four Devils' defenders in all three quality of competition categories, and posted a slightly negative Relative Corsi, which is about what you'd expect given the situation. He also led the Devils in ice time on the penalty kill, and at 6'4'' and 215 lbs., he's got the kind of size the Oilers seem to be looking (and for those of you who like your defensemen hitting stuff, he was among the top two Devils' defenders in hits).
He's not a great shut-down defender at this point in his career, but with just one year left on his contract at $3M, there's not much risk here. What's so bad about bringing in a player who's a solid option on the PK (which I'll remind you was terrible last season), and a more-than-capable hand as a third-pairing mentor who could also provide valuable competition for a shut-down spot in the top four in case Ladislav Smid either isn't very good or isn't healthy? I just don't see the downside. The Oilers, of course, chose not to claim this player off waivers, and it's a decision that I can understand given their proximity to the fifty-man contract limit. But...
I can't understand why they didn't trade for him earlier. You see, Lou Lamoriello has apparently been trying to trade Colin White for a while now:
Lamoriello said he has been trying to move White since the end of the season.
"Colin and I sat down at the end of the season and after the discussion we decided just to go and get a bit of a change," Lamoriello said.
He tried to find a taker for White in a trade, but was unable.
This means that long before the Oilers had any problems with the fifty-contract limit, they decided that Colin White wasn't for them. And instead went with Andy Sutton.
That. Is. Crazy.
Andy Sutton is $750,000 less expensive this year than Colin White. I'm going to go out on a limb (not really) and say that the difference in performance would have been worth it. Colin White is a much better player (he's even a winner!), and yet the Oilers went with Sutton. It's baffling. I suppose it's possible that the Devils didn't want to take Kurtis Foster back in return, but considering he makes for a cheaper buy-out than the one they just orchestrated, I have a hard time thinking of that as reasonable. Put it all together, and you get one very weird decision by the Oilers.