Thursday, May 31, 2007

NHL Draft Prospect: Patrick White

Next on our list of NHL Draft prospects is Grand Rapids HS forward Patrick White.

White grew up playing hockey in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota hockey association. After playing his sophomore year for Grand Rapids High School, White was invited to the NTDP's tryout camp. said, "Just OK on the first day, came on the second day, suffered a deep thigh bruise and didn’t play the third day. Strong skater. Good puck skills, good hockey sense, does everything well."

White's stock began to drop a bit heading into his junior year. I wasn't overly impressed with him in limited viewing at the 2005 HS Elite League: "White started the year pretty high on the '07 recruiting board, but has slowly faded as he hasn't lived up to his hype. He had a couple bad shifts and took a bad penalty in the time I saw and certainly did nothing to help his position on the prospect board."

But his stock rose again that spring, and has remained high ever since. It began when White went on a tear at the end of the high school season. He was a key factor in Grand Rapids surprising run to the Minnesota High School state championship game. That played earned him a scholarship offer to Minnesota, which he accepted last June.

A few weeks later, I was impressed with him at Minnesota's Model Camp: "He looks so much better than he did last year. A big part of it is probably confidence. He was good, but not really dominate on offense, but I thought he was excellent defensively. I don't think he'll be a star at the next level, but he'll be a player that Gopher fans are very happy to have." and at the Select 17 Festival: "
On the other side of the ice, the more I see Pat White, the more I'm convinced he'll be a first round draft pick next summer. He had another great performance. Even though he was held off the scoresheet, he was still making his presence felt on the ice."

White was offered a spot on the NTDP team, but chose instead to return to Grand Rapids for his senior year of high school. He got off to a slow start in his senior year of high school. He sprained his ankle in a preseason game and it took over half the season for him to recover. White returned to full health in time for the section playoffs, and led Grand Rapids back to the state tournament, where I said this about his play: "Pat White(Minnesota commit) was easily the best player on the ice. He's incredibly strong, and a smart hockey player. I was very impressed."

After his high school season, White went to Tri-City of the USHL, where he scored 8 goals and one assist in 12 games, and registed a +5 +/- rating. He also played for the US U18 team at the World Championships.

White is incredibly strong with the puck. In last year's state championship game, Roseau head coach Scott Oliver instructed his players to try and play off White, because of his ability to bounce off of checks. White also has a hard, accurate shot which allows him to score a lot of goals. He is also responsible on his own end of the ice, which should make him even more attractive to NHL teams.

White was ranked 23rd in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau Final Rankings, which was up from 25 in the Mid-term Rankings. White will likely be on the borderline between the first and the second round.

White will head to the University of Minnesota next season. Whichever team drafts him will likely want White to play at least 2 or three years as he develops physically. White has a great deal of strength, but there is a big difference between being high school-strong and NHL-strong, and it takes time to build that strength. White projects to a solid two-way player that can be a solid finisher on a powerplay. White is one of the more complete players in the draft, with no glaring weaknesses. It will just be a matter of how he continues to develop.

Biggest strength: Goal-scoring ability
Needs to Improve: Strength

Further Reading:

Research on Ice feature: Pat White March 12, 2007