The Minnesota Wild knew Ryan White for 19 regular season games and 3 playoff games this year. Yet the story of White and the Wild goes all the way back to 2011 when he would score his first NHL goal against the Wild on March 20th as part of the pinnacle in grinder/enforcer achievements, a Gordie Howe hat trick. Fast forward nearly 6 years and White would find himself as part of a trade that would send him and Martin Hanzal to the Wild in exchange for a couple draft picks nobody really wanted anyway.
For White, 19 regular season games in Minnesota was good enough to score 2 goals to go with an assist and 14 penalty minutes. Mostly thought of as an after-thought in the trade for Hanzal, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher clearly thought, “If I’m going to give up all these draft picks, I should probably get a throw away piece as well.”
Ryan White is not a terrible hockey player mind you. You do not make it to the NHL by accident, unless you’re Cam Barker. Nobody has ever accused White of being elite. In 313 NHL regular season games he has scored just 31 goals and 30 assists. He certainly wasn’t the big prize in the trade that brought him here, and after scoring 2 quick goals and an assist in his first 2 games of his Wild career he turned back into the player most expected to see, an agitator. A guy who doesn’t bring a lot of points but brings a lot of grit, a lot of energy, and a lot of hair onto the ice each and every shift he takes.
White was not the reason the Wild flopped in the playoffs. He averaged just 7 minutes in the post season in his 3 games, and while you could argue that 7 minutes may have been more useful in somebody else’s skates, with the team as a whole having just the worst time in the world trying to beat Jake Allen it doesn't feel like his presence was a difference maker one way or another.
In the regular season, the Wild went 8-9-2 with White in the lineup. While his 3 early points for the Wild may have elevated everyone's hopes for a brief moment, reality quickly set in as White was held off the score sheet (aside from penalties) for the reminder of the season.
White may turn out to be an after-thought in the Hanzal trade. His presence added depth down the middle, and a little energy to a lineup that was sputtering through much of the last quarter of the season. It is highly improbable that White returns for another go of it in the 2017-18 season. There are plenty of kids ready to make the jump to the NHL and while White could potentially help out an Iowa Wild team, I would be surprised to see him brought back for a bigger role with the big club. With expansion and free agency looming though, anything is possible.
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