We continue our year in review with the 2nd player report card of the off-season:
Season Review – Twenty two year old Patrick Wiercioch became a regular in the lineup over the course of the season, making a name for himself with strong outlet passes reminiscent of former Senator Wade Redden. He suited up for 42 of the 48 games in the regular season, scoring 5 goals and adding 14 assists for 19 points. He finished 2nd in scoring among rookie defensemen league-wide and tied for 9th among all rookies.
Playoffs – With the return of Erik Karlsson, Wiercioch found himself starting the postseason in the press box. With Eric Gryba‘s suspension in game 1, Wiercioch got into the lineup for game 2 but lasted only 1:47 of ice time before leaving with a lower body injury and never got back into the lineup.
Contract Status – Wiercioch is scheduled to become a restricted Free Agent on July 5th, having completed his entry level contract. Expect him to get re-signed to a 2 or 3 year deal worth about $1.5M-$2M per year.
Importance To Franchise – With the imminent potential departure of Sergei Gonchar and Cody Ceci probably a year or two away, Wiercioch has the opportunity to step into a top 4 role with some offensive pucnch. However, the fact that he was left out of the lineup down the stretch and to open the playoffs begs the question of where coach Paul MacLean sees his fit.
Needs to Improve – Defensive zone play needs to be better for Wiercioch to be able to play a top-4 role.
Grade – B. Wiercioch is still in the learning phase of his career and has a lot of upside left.