Wiercioch, an analytics darling, needs to find aggressive side in Vancouver


Patrick Wiercioch is one of those guys who looks good on a spreadsheet.

But the question still remains — is he a good hockey player?

Wiercioch, a 26-year-old defenseman, has long been touted in the analytics community as an undervalued asset. During his time with the Ottawa Senators, it caused a few good debates between the numbers folks and the more traditional eyeball testers.

The Sens eventually chose to cut ties with Wiercioch, leaving him an unrestricted free agent. He spent last year with Colorado. Then, on July 1, he signed a one-year deal with Vancouver.

It’s a low-risk move for the Canucks, who also signed Michael Del Zotto after losing Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft. To have success, Wiercioch has been told he needs to play with more aggression.

And that’s often the case with these analytics darlings. They’re good when they have the puck; they move it well and contribute to the attack, and that’s valuable.

But a big part of a defenseman’s job is actually getting the puck. That means winning battles, and winning them quickly.

“Honestly, it’s just a mentality,” Wiercioch told The Province. “It’s your stick and body position and engaging earlier. I’ve always been able to have good position in reading the play well, but I need to just do it sooner and having that mindset that the quicker you get it done, the quicker you get to the fun part — stuff that comes naturally and is easier.”

This is perhaps Wiercioch’s last shot to stick in the NHL.

In September, he’ll turn 27, and his salary is right close to the league minimum.