Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch may be headed to unrestricted free agency a little early if a report by the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch comes to fruition. According to Garrioch, there are major rumblings that the Ottawa Senators will not qualify the pending restricted free agent this summer, forcing the defenseman onto the open market.
Wiercioch would cost the Sens at least $2.7 million should Ottawa choose to qualify him and based on his recent returns, that's a lot of money. At a lower cap hit (which any team could sign the blueliner to this summer) there is certainly some value in the 25-year-old, but new Senators GM Pierre Dorion seems to be taking a decisive stance early in his tenure. And I like it.
Having been Ottawa's assistant GM under the ailing Bryan Murray, Dorion easily could have taken less dramatic steps in the first month of his time up top, but what would that accomplish? The Senators were not a playoff team this season and changes needed to be made. Wiercioch seems to be the latest casualty, but certainly not the first.
To wit; Dorion could have retained coach Dave Cameron, giving the bench boss one last chance under the new(ish) regime. But no: Dorion clearly wanted a fresh mind as coach, so Cameron and assistants Andre Tourigny and Rick Wamsley were fired just days after Dorion became GM.
Following this thread, it would have been a sentimental and populist move to hire AHL Binghamton coach Luke Richardson as the new guy in Ottawa, but apparently Richardson wasn't even on the list. He ended up leaving the organization (which is too bad for the B-Sens), but Dorion got a nice 1-2 punch with new hire Guy Boucher and associate coach Marc Crawford.
To repeat: Dorion got his guys. This is so crucial for a new GM, because he has to have a vision. The Senators need a new plan, since "hoping a goalie comes out of nowhere to lead us on a record hot streak" only worked once – and had a limited shelf life.
And hey; best of luck to Patrick Wiercioch, but Ottawa's defense corps was turrrible this season (Erik Karlsson being the exception to the rule) and upgrades are needed. You can't be paying a No.6 or No. 7 defenseman $2.7 million and expect to be successful when you have glaring holes elsewhere.
While Dorion's master plan has yet to be revealed in full, his early actions come off strong. A little cold? Perhaps, but this is business and sports – neither are venues for sentiment when the bottom line is winning.
What Dorion has showed so far is decisiveness and that will help him this summer when he has to re-sign Mike Hoffman and Cody Ceci (two prominent RFAs) and continue to reshape his roster. It won't be an easy task, but the man seems to be up for it.