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Hi honey. How was school today?
Hey! Don’t you start sassing me you little fungus. I need you to unplug your Pono personal listening device™ from the wall for 5 minutes. We need to have a frank discussion about the Wiercioch boy you’ve been going to the ice cream social with of late.
In the spirit of keeping it 100, I should be up front about my feelings toward Wiercioch as a player before going into this thing:
Patrick Aloysius Wiercioch is a human man who plays ice hockey. He is an excellent passer who reads the ice well. He possesses a deceptively good shot that he can keep quite low making it difficult for opposing goaltenders to track the puck through traffic.
He might also be the easiest 6 foot 5 200+ pound defenceperson to play against physically in the NHL. I mean I’m not one of those people that demands that our guys defend using The Scott Stevens Method™ (i.e. Legally giving someone brain damage) but your man is routinely soft as my chinchilla coat. I once saw Chad LaRose, whilst carrying the puck on the rush, give Patty the one arm shiver and put him on his ass while entering the Ottawa zone. Chad. La. Rose. One could say I have mixed emotions about him. He’s probably our 3rd best defender…but he plays defence for the Sens so…you know how that go.
This article about a defenceguy is a stub. You can help WTYKYpedia by expanding it…just kidding don’t talk to me. Do not TOUCH me…don’t talk to me.
Let’s get this right out there: Homie can move the puck. I think he’s very good at it. This season he’s also rocking an above team average Corsi…but again, he plays defence for the Ottawa Senators so that’s still well under 50% at the time of this writing. Interestingly he’s been well over 50% playing away from Cody Ceci so…celebrate the moments of our lives? Anyway, he’s steady carrying the puck. Area Man Does His Job. Good. This area of his game is fine and valuable.
So we’ve established that eye test-wise he doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of his opponents. Going by the numbers, however, we find that despite getting sonned off the puck, he seems to be carrying it out of the defensive zone. So I guess this just about wraps it up—WAIT, NOT SO FAST THERE, NUMBERS.
We still haven’t talked about one oh so important stat: Points
After nearly getting dealt by The BryBry, Wiercioch finished last season with a strong playoff round against Montreal with 4 points in 6 games. He then made Team Canada to play in whatever tournament that I’m going to pretend people give a shit about for the sake of letting him cook. Let’s call iiiit…The OTHER Spengler Cup. Good, good, nice and good.
This year has been different for him production-wise. Much different. I’ve never thought of Wiercioch as on offensive dynamo but I think its fair to say he’s been annual frontrunner for the Filip Kuba Memorial Award for Outstanding Acheivement in the Field of Being the Other Defenseman Besides Karlsson Who Puts Up SOME Points. How’s his season going? Well, compared to other players strugging on the scoresheet I present this visual aide:
Once you stop screaming “WHAT ARE THOSE!?” at these stat lines we can unpack them a bit.
Okay I can’t wait that long so I’m going to just start talking again. Can we calmly discuss how Wiercioch went from guy who could put up decent double digit points (23 in 53 games two seasons ago) to sharing a stat line with human Pontiac Aztec Jared Cowen? Without hitting the easy target of how Cowen is dummying him in the plus minus department despite playing the on the PK regularly, to me, it’s most troubling that Wiercioch takes twice as many shots and is putting up the same numbers as JC. Shots are good but damn even Chris Neil’s been lighting the lamp more with the same amount of attempts (41). Further, Wiercioch hasn’t had a point in 15 games [Ed Note: Now 17 games]. Perspective: The Sens played 15 games during that entire December Death March. A secondary assist here or there would make me more feel at least a little less concerned.
Despite their shared stat line, Cowen’s not actually the guy I want to compare him to.
I be thinkin’ this reminds me of someone else: The lengthy stretches as a healthy scratch, that one strong playoff round, the drop off in production, the long pointless streak, soft on the puck but good at carrying it…this is all reminiscent of how you say….ah yes, Peter Regin.
*Dodges Internet garbage being hurled at me for even suggesting such a thing*
PLEASE, ANGRY MOB, PUT DOWN YOUR FLAMING TORCHES! LET ME SPEAK…I’m trying to get fired here.
Look, I know they aren’t the same player. Hell, Regin is (was?) a center and Wiercioch a defender. I also think the circumstances surrounding their struggles are a bit different. Regin’s were spawned from from chronic injury which probably led to a lack of confidence and then Swiss league comes at you fast. For Wiercioch it might be lack of confidence from struggling to live up to high expectations.
As was the case with Regin before him I want to again point out that I actually like this player. I was happy when Patty W. seemed to bounce back and hit his stride under Dave Cameron. I remember thinking during that series against Montreal that #WierciochNation was right all this time. He IS the top 4 defenseman this team needed.
The truth is, however, that NHL can be a bit of “what have you done for me lately?” league and, honestly, I think he’s quietly been one of the most disappointing players on the team since October. For all the vitriol spewed at Cowen, Borowiecki and Chiasson, the difference, for me, between them and Wiercioch is I actually have pretty high expectations for PW. I think most fans do.
For instance, if I were to have predicted at the beginning of this season that in January of 2016, the offensively talented Patrick Dubya would be outscored by the entire fourth line AND every Defenseman save for Borowiecki (who only trails him by 2 points BTFingW) and Claesson who has played under 10 NHL games? I think I would have been deservedly laughed at. 3 points nearly halfway through the season. Damn. PW lover or PW hater that’s really disappointing. Dave Dziurzynski, the least exciting Sens prospect, seemingly put up 3 points in 12 games by accident! All of this is happening to our boy in an important contract year.
I bring all this up because of that last sentence there. A decision needs to be made on Patrick’s future with the organization. The way I see it, the options are:
1. Re-sign him for a SONG and gamble that he turns it around. He’s an RFA going into his next negotiation and is currently on pace for SEVEN points. I don’t expect a drop in his already modest 2 million dollar salary but surely he’s not entitled to a raise. Who is he, Jared Cowen? Ah, speaking of which…
2. Trade him and get something for him.
If I were the Sens GM [blech no THANKS], I would be moving heaven and Earf to free up money right now. Meet me up in this tree and I’ll tell you my stupid plan:
Accept selling low on Patrick Wiercioch and Jared Cowen and take a hit in what you get back. For Patty, I still think we could get something modestly good. An okay pick or maybe someone who could help the struggling B-Sens. In Cowen’s case, it’s a fucking wrap. Murray dealt Alex Kovalev for a conditional 7th round pick and that guy had a Cup ring and over 1000 points. I would do that deal for Cowen if it came up for Cowen, IDGAF. He cant even play on the 3rd pairing at this point. He’s a bust. IT HAPPENS. If there’s even one offer where you can shed some money, take it.
K, then, use the money you’ve just cleared to re-up RFAs Wideman and Claesson, send Neil to a contender at the deadline, transfer Chiasson to the Mexican Elite League and at season’s end Phillips finally comes off the books…NOW DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO RE-SIGN MIKE HOFFMAN WITH WHAT MONEY IS LEFT.
In 2016, it’s basically all about freeing up Mike Hoffman’s money for this cowboy. I’m willing to sacrifice players both DEEC and terrible in an attempt to keep one clearly awesome player.
Could this year’s disappointing showing be an anomaly in the long run of Wiercioch’s career? Of course it’s possible. There’s risk involved in every trade. At just 25 years of age he could definitely turn it around. We’ve seen what he can do. But he was a trade candidate last year and, frankly, he’s a less valuable trade candidate again this year. Not a good sign.
Again, this reminds me of The Battle of Peter Regin on Social Media a few years ago. When the Sens parted ways with Regin, I figured they could be parting with a potentially good player but probably not one so good that the team would suffer greatly without him. I think similarly toward Wiercioch after the last two seasons. We gave him a shot as a 2nd pairing guy and I don’t think he’s really proven to the Sens that they should lock him up as that going forward. He had a chance and now I think it might be time to give Claesson that chance. I’m pushing the chips in early as hell but budgets favour the brave.
Either way, if a left side of Methot, Claesson, Borowiecki/Frozen Dinner doesn’t work out, yes, we still need that second pairing defenseman. But maybe by dealing Patty W along with making some of the other moves outlined, the team can save enough money to continue that search with Hoffman in the fold.
This post is dedicated to Left Handed, Puck Moving Defenceman Thomas Chabot. No pressure, my Boo. Angels soar high.