Senators choose not to extend qualifying offer to Wiercioch

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Patrick Wiercioch is now an unrestricted free agent, after the Ottawa Senators declined to extend him a qualifying offer.

This move isn’t unexpected. In fact, it was initially reported in May that the Senators likely wouldn’t qualify the 25-year-old defenseman, who had five assists in 52 games this past season.

As per General Fanager, Wiercioch made $2.7 million in NHL salary this past season, so the Senators had to match that in a qualifying offer to him. The Senators right now have $18.4 million in cap space dedicated to three defensemen — Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot — for next season.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion foreshadowed today’s news with his comments ahead of the NHL Draft.

“There is an appetite, but we have to think that it’s 2.7 [million dollars] to qualify him. Is he worth that money? Is he better off going somewhere else?” said Dorion, as per TSN. “I said we’d explore options. At 2.7 to qualify him, that’s a significant number. We’ve talked to his agent and we’ll see what happens going forward over the next 10 days.”

The club also announced it sent a qualifying offer to 22-year-old defenseman Cody Ceci, who scored 10 goals and 26 points last season and is also a restricted free agent.

While his point production has slipped from a career year of 23 points (four goals) in 53 games in 2013-14, he had strong possession numbers at even strength in three of his five seasons with Ottawa, registering a 56.8 per cent Fenwick For rating at five-on-five during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.