Yesterday we pointed out that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford would need to add a defenseman via trade to help out the team. Today, a suggestion or possibility might have come up, on our radar at least, from Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts.
Two other Avalanche targets to watch. It’s not a secret they would like to add defencemen. Last year, they came very close to a deal with Ottawa. (I believe it was for Stefan Elliott and a third-round pick.) It fell apart around the trade deadline. When Wiercioch was a healthy scratch last week, I wondered if anything re-kindled, but it doesn't sound like it.
It would probable behoove the Penguins to see if they can talk to Ottawa about Wiercioch.
This passage from September on Wiercioch stood out on our Sens blog, Silver Seven Sens:
Wiercioch's revival with the Senators culminated with a strong playoff performance and a gold medal for Canada at the World Championships. He isn't always appreciated by the fanbase due to the fact that he is neither physical nor a fast skater, but he is a very good passer of the puck and makes excellent decisions. When paired with Karlsson on the top pairing, the two have been absolutely dominant and are the best option for the Senators when trailing.
From The Hockey News:
|Assets:||Has outstanding size and reach, and still has plenty of room to fill out. Can produce offensive numbers, mainly due to a big shot from the point. Has all-round upside.|
|Flaws:||Needs to get even stronger and maximize the use of his huge frame in order to excel at the highest level. Isn't overly physical, despite his size. That needs to change.|
|Career Potential:||Big defenseman with some upside.|
Salary situation: $2.2 million dollar cap hit, contract expires July 1, 2016 (restricted free agent)
This is pretty manageable for the Penguins - they would have to trade about that much away (or have Ottawa retain some salary) but otherwise Wiercioch being just a RFA this summer makes him a more attractive asset to try and acquire. Grab him this year, see how he fits in and if all goes well maybe sign him for a 3 year deal, ala Ian Cole.
Acquisition cost: probably not high
If the rumor above was correct, Elliot is a 24-year old #7/8 defenseman, and a mid-round draft pick.
The bigger question would probably be how to finagle the salary cap. Would the Senators take a player like Beau Bennett and retain some salary? A comparable player to Elliot is Brian Dumoulin, would Dumoulin plus a draft pick be a starting point if Ottawa is really interested in dumping Wiercioch?
Or would the Penguins look to get creative, and maybe offer David Perron ($3.8 million cap hit) and try to get another forward in return? Like maybe 23-year old spark-plug Jean-Gabriel Pageau?
Maybe, in fantasy world, the Penguins pull a jedi mind trick and get Bryan Murray to take Rob Scuderi ? The Pens could even retain the salary difference and still come out ahead. And, Pittsburgh does have two 2nd round picks in this season's draft. I'm not sure if Ottawa is looking for an offensive player like Scuds, but hey it doesn't hurt to dream, right?
Where there's a will, there's a way, but if the Penguins want to acquire anyone, it will mean that they will have to trade away a player on their current payroll to fit under the salary cap (unless someone gets seriously injured and goes on LTIR).
This year: Not great; 17 games played, 0 goals, 3 assists, -5, 46.7 Corsi For%, 17:56 TOI
We should acknowledge that there is a reason the Sens might be looking to trade Wiercioch , and it's because he never really carved a consistent niche for himself in Ottawa. However, if you look back at Wiercioch from 2012-15, he's got a 54.8 CF% and has been on ice for more goals for than against.
The Penguins could use an 18 a minute night type of defenseman, and (as mentioned above) Wiercioch has success playing with Erik Karlsson, and also Sergei Gonchar from past years. This means, if you couldn't slot him in with Kris Letang, he could probably play passable 2nd pairing minutes with a player like Ian Cole or Ben Lovejoy.
If Olli Maatta can keep progressing and eventually wind up with Letang, a Wiercioch/Cole 2nd pairing would look nice and free Lovejoy up for the 3rd pair (and maybe, just maybe a good spot Derrick Pouliot in a few months?). Adding Wiercioch would go a long way to solidifying the Penguins defense, if they can get him in a trade for a reasonable price.