Silver Nuggets: What's Gonna Happen With Patrick Wiercioch?
He's been a healthy scratch for five games in a row, signalling the team will probably just get rid of him.
Patrick Wiercioch has been a healthy scratch for five straight games. Some people were expecting him to get traded at the deadline, but he wasn't. Now he's still a member of the Ottawa Senators, and will probably get to play down the stretch with Mark Borowiecki listed as week-to-week. Shortly after the trade deadline, Bryan Murray had some generic comments on Wiercioch:
I can’t tell you anything about the long-term at this point in time. That’s totally up to Patrick. I mean, if he comes in and plays the way we think he’s capable of and the way he played in the latter part of last year, then he has a future with us. And if he doesn’t and he plays somewhat like he’s been playing lately here, then it’s going to be difficult for him. We did talk to a good number of teams about him and we couldn’t make a trade, so now it’s up to Patrick to show that he can play and play well here.
(via 6th Sens)
Murray has a history of talking up underperforming defencemen (see: Cowen, Jared) so I don't read too much into this. Basically, Wiercioch's only chance is to play lights-out like he did down the stretch last year. Barring that, he's as good as gone in the offseason.
NKB did a good job of outlining the Sens' options with PW a couple weeks ago. Pretty much, the team has four options: qualify him at this year's salary ($2.7M), take him to team-elected arbitration with a minimum award of $2.295M, trade him, or fail to qualify him and let him become a UFA. Seeing how little the team values him, and with Chris Wideman on a bargain contract, I have a hard time seeing the team willingly offer up $2.7M for him. Even $2.3M seems too high. The team reportedly tried to trade him leading up to the deadline, but there were no takers. I have a hard time seeing that changing much in the summer, again, unless he has a fantastic end to the year. If I'm a GM, I'd have a hard time giving up an asset to acquire Wiercioch to still have to qualify him at $2.7M. If I really wanted him, I'd wait for him to become a UFA and sign him for less.
I guess the Sens have one more option, which is to offer him a Wideman-level contract before the qualifying deadline (June 27 this year). If Wiercioch accepted it as his last shot at the NHL, he could be a Senator next year. The only question is, why would Wiercioch accept it? After all he's been through in Ottawa, you think he'd decide to take his chances with pretty much any other team.
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