USA TODAY Sports
Ryan White always stands up for his teammates, usually against players bigger than himself, and he has some sick flow, but is he a good hockey player?
It's always a little bit tough to grade 4th line players. If they're used in a tough role, what do you expect from them? They don't have the talent to outshoot opponents, and they're not going to produce much offense. So what do you want to see in advanced stats that are mostly created to find out which good players are great players?
For starters, we can look at White's role. He has the second toughest zone starts on the team, and the weakest quality of teammates. Somehow he also has the weakest level of competition, but I think it's safe to say that White is used as a sacrificial lamb to take tough jobs so that offensive minded guys have to do less work trudging in their own zone.
Because of this, White should be expected to have some of the worst possession numbers on the team, and he does. He should be expected to have very little offensive production, and he does. White's game by game possession is split exactly around his series of healthy scratches:
Therrien began using White in an easier role, and White was able to put up above team average possession. When he was scratched for lack of discipline, Therrien immediately transitioned him into a tough, sacrificial role.
What's surprising though is that White's Corsi in close situations is actually above par, and within the top 9 forwards on the team. Due to a lack of offensive talent though, I'm guessing a lot of his shot attempts are blocked, which is why his shots and Fenwick are considerably lower.
One thing that you look for in a player being used like White is, is scoring chance suppression. His main job in his 9-10 minutes per game is to prevent scoring chances against and clear the zone, wasting the other team's attacking time and getting better Habs players on the ice.
White actually does this remarkably well. His scoring chances against per 60 minutes played are just 10.5, the lowest on the team. His scoring differential isn't the best, ranking 9th among forwards, but I would venture to say that it's still better than what would be expected.
This scoring chance suppression talent carries over to the penalty kill, where again White has the fewest scoring chances against per 60 minutes. He hasn't played a ton of time there, but the results for him have been phenomenal. Looking at his rankings across the board on the PK, it seems like not using him more often is yet another blunder to add to whoever is coaching the PK (Daigneault?).
The only real criticism that can be levied at White so far this season is that he hasn't been disciplined. Sometimes this has been justified, like when he went after Fleischmann for his hit from behind on Gorges, and some has been stupid, like falling for Ott baiting over a month ago. But the point is, most of that lack of discipline has been eliminated, so White is getting better there. But White's job may still be in trouble, because Gabriel Dumont has been extremely impressive in his call up.
Ryan White is being graded as a sacrificial 4th liner, and he's managed to be extremely impressive in that role. I still think Ryan White has a little bit more offense to contribute, even in this role, and his discipline in the past has been much better. For that reason I can't say it's the best he's ever played, so he gets an above average grade.
First half grade: 8/10
Ryan White didn't play enough last year to be reviewed, but you can check out Behind the Net for his previous years.