Patrick Wiercioch An Option For The Wild?


We’re closing in on Monday’s trade deadline and speculation is going full tilt. The nature of that speculation seems to change minute to minute as well. Players are getting traded constantly and teams are waiving other guys in hopes of clearing roster space for trades.

For instance the Minnesota Wild are looking at defenseman Jordan Leopold (who Alex thinks the team should stay away from). But that might be upended with the Dallas Stars putting David Schlemko on waivers (I wrote about him earlier in the season, shortly before Dallas grabbed him off waivers) and the Chicago Blackhawks have placed Tim Erixon on waivers. Both of them could solve the hole on the left side of the third defensive pairing without sending a draft pick away.

One little discussed option might be 24-year-old left-handed defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, who the Ottawa Senators are reportedly shopping.

Why Wiercioch? Let’s start here: He’s young, developing, and also this:

His overall numbers might be suppressed by limited ice time, but he’s shown great offensive potential in his short career. He totaled five goals in 42 games during the 2012-13 season and collected a total of 23 points in 53 games last year.

His underlying numbers are the reason to pay attention though. It’s not just offensive potential he’s showing, he’s capable of controlling play. He’s had decent zone starts, but is running a 55% Corsi For% (CF%) through his career, a +4.1% CF%Rel total. If you adjust for usage, he has a 56.9% Corsi For. The positive view holds up if you look at his dCorsiImpact, which comes in at 89.39. If you don’t care about dCorsi or usage adjusted corsi, then just know this: by all metrics, he’s very good a shot suppression and is more than capable in the offensive zone.

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However the Wild want to play the third pair, Wiercioch appears to be a solution. His current cap hit is $2.2M and he’s a RFA at the end of the season, which means you’re getting more than a rental for the draft pick you’re sending in the other direction. Even if you’re sending a late round draft pick to Columbus for Leopold, you’re getting an older player with an expiring contract. Wiercioch bring with him far more upside, youth, and a solution that lasts longer than this season.

He not only looks better than Leopold, he looks like a better option than either Nate Prosser or Christian Folin.

Here’s a look at a usage chart with Folin, Prosser, Schlemko, Erixon, Leopold, and Wiercioch. Wiercioch has easier competition and more offensive zone starts, but as you saw with his dCorsi and UA Corsi, you can’t take away the positive impact he’s having on play at both ends of the rink for that. Erixon looks like a poor man’s Wiercioch here (though I’d argue he looks worse when you start digging through his stats). However, Erixon wouldn’t cost draft picks right now. (Color is relative Corsi.)

Here’s the one problem the team may have with acquiring him: the penalty kill. Wiercioch hasn’t been used as a penalty killer during his time in Ottawa. In his career he averages about 12 seconds of penalty kill time per game. If acquired, he likely bumps Prosser out of his spot and that creates a hole on the penalty kill that will need to be filled by a player in the top four, which, once Jared Spurgeon returns, will put more pressure on their minutes. Though maybe that’s possible if the team felt they could trust a Wiercioch / Dumba third pairing with more even strength minutes than they’re giving any configuration of the third pairing with Nate Prosser in it.

The Wild appear to be a playoff team and if they want to compete in the playoffs they’ll need to address the problems they have in the third pairing. But at the same time, you hate to see them spend draft picks to improve right now when their best Stanley Cup chances appear to be in the future. Wiercioch may be a solution that, while he’ll cost something, doesn’t give up future prospects for a rental. His skills may be just enough under the radar that he’s a steal right now. (In fact his numbers look a lot like Nick Leddy’s and it looks like the Islanders made a move similar to what the Wild could do here to steal a player who will have a positive impact for them for years to come.)

Wiercioch is an investment in this season and next.

Next: Why the Wild Shouldn't Trade for Jordan Leopold

Steve Burtch’s dCorsi, usage chart, and standard possession stats via War on Ice. Usage adjusted numbers and HERO chart via Domenic Galamini/Own the Puck.