Originally posted on Nightmare on Helm Street  |  Last updated 12/20/11

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 19: Ian White #7 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center on November 19, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A while back I stated my overall love for the deal that brought Ian White to the Wings this off season. It's quite possibly the best move of the summer and Kenny pulled it off while other teams were spending boatloads of cash on unproven players that they most likely will regret.

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-- First of all let me start this off by saying that Brian Rafalski had an amazing career. His drive and determination to make it in the NHL when he was passed over for being too small changed the way players are scouted and paved the way for smaller, smarter defenders making it in today's NHL. Rafalski was an integral part of the Red Wings 2008 Stanley Cup win as well as both of the Cups he won as a Devil. As a hometown boy that got to live out every Michigan kids dream, Rafalksi will always have a special place in the heart of every Wings fan.

That being said here is my case for why Ian White is actually an upgrade over Brian Rafalski, and the best option Ken Holland and the Red Wings had when free agency started.

Since Rafalski announced his retirement the question has been, what player or players would fill the void left on the Red Wings blue line? Names were thrown around such as Wisniewski, Ehrhoff, and Kaberle. Internal components were discussed suggesting Kronwall, Ericsson or a combination of the both of them stepping in and picking up the slack. All the while Ian White's name was never mentioned.

White has been somewhat of a wallflower when it comes to being noticed in the NHL. He played for three different team last season including the San Jose Sharks where he played top-4 minutes racking up 10 point and a +9 rating in 23 games and another 9 points in 17 games during the Sharks playoff run that would inevitably end the Red Wings cup run.

So when July 1st came and all the "big name" defenders signed lucrative lifetime deals and the Wings fans started to worry that we may have to rely on Jonathan Ericsson to play in our top-4, Ken Holland and his team pulled off quite possibly the best and most financially savvy deals of the off-season.

Now since Rafalski spent a majority of last season struggling to make it through the pain, and Ian White was traded what seemed like more than Mike Sillinger, we'll look at their 2009-10 numbers as both players were healthy and played the majority of the season with one team.

2009-10 GP G A P +/- PIM PPG S H BK GvA TkA Brian Rafalski 78 8 34 42 23 26 5 134 39 101 72 24 Ian      White 83 13 25 38 8 51 3 173 54 137 69 35

Looking at their numbers side by side shows the picture a bit more clearly. The goals, assists, power play goals are all pretty close. The +/- could be moot as White played for Toronto and Calgary, two teams in the lower half of the standings. White and Raflaski play a very similar style, both smaller guys by NHL standards. They both move the puck well and have above average skating ability, both of them have powerful shots and can man the point on the power play.

Where White begins to separate himself from Rafalski is the physical aspects of the game, he plays with an edge, doesn't get knocked off the puck like Rafalski was prone to.  Looking at the latter part of the stats above you can see White hits more, blocks more and may have an edge on takeaways as well. Yes White did play in the East for a majority of the 2009-10 season but for a team that finished near the bottom of the standings.

White is also only 27, Rafalski didn't even begin playing in the NHL until 26. White had 401 games and 143 points under his belt by that age. Getting an all expenses paid crash course from quite possibly the greatest defenceman of all time is something that can only help him develop even further.

While Buffalo and Columbus scrambled to get the "top defenders" this off season, Detroit sat back, stayed focused, and set themselves up for another run at Lord Stanley's cup. With 3 points and a +4 in four games so far this season expect Ian White to shatter his previous career numbers. The future is bright in Detroit, and White could and should be at the center of it for years to come. --

So lets look at the numbers so far

GP G A P +/- TOI/G Ian White 28 4 11 15 23 22:28 On Pace: 78 11 30 41 64

I'll clarify the title. I do not think that Ian White is better than Rafalski. I do believe that he gives a better chance to win than Rafalski would have this year, and with some time his career could follow the same path. White has what Rafalski lacked. Grit, and Rafi had a few intangibles that White is missing as well.

What are your thoughts?

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