Shootout Whiz

DANIEL:

The Ducks won a second game by James Wisniewski shootout spectacular. He is now a perfect 2 for 2 on shootouts, and he also found a way to break Anaheim's power play drought. Arthur, there are few people who have been as critical of Wiz as we have, yet his play of late has been improving . . . maybe. Has Wisniewski's play improved enough for the Ducks to start thinking about making him a part of their long term plans?

ARTHUR:

No, it hasn't and they shouldn't consider it. The plan for this ridiculous one year contract was for him to stay healthy, and he couldn't.  On paper, he's only missed five games, but he seemed to be fighting something for most of December and was frankly about as useful as an IR player.  Maybe he has horrible luck-- I mean, we're talking about a guy who tore his ACL for the second time while training in the offseason --or maybe he doesn't have a professional athlete's body. There's no shame in either. I wouldn't agree with paying athletes millions of dollars if what they do could be accomplished with heart alone, and I would kill and maim for Mario Lemieux to have had better genetics.

As to the way he's playing, my complaints about Wisniewski were always twofold. One, he's a massive injury risk. Two, he doesn't realize he's an injury risk and he insists on risking injury on every play by trying his hand at the defensive aspects of the game, none of which he excels at playing. I don't really fault him for the turnovers and the brain cramps, because he's basically a converted forward.  

There's a saying I picked up from other defensemen: when a goalie or a forward does it, it's called 'guessing;' when a defenseman does it, it's called a mistake. Defensemen should know better, basically. But offensive defensemen present that interesting hybrid, where no matter how moronic the play, you forgive it if it results in scoring, the same way you forgive forwards who don't backcheck or play beneath their own blueline.

So, in my mind, Wisniewski's offense earns him the right to guess. Good for him. But he hasn't done enough to prove his injuries to date were flukes or that he CAN play carefully (in regards to his health) and focus on offense. Those are the things that make a three year contract impossible. And another one year try-to-stay-healthy contract is just stupid.

 

DANIEL:

While I certainly agree that he shouldn't be in our long term plans, I have to disagree that it's solely for health concerns. Whether he was actually healthy for all of them or not, he's started 50 of 55 games, and if-- IF --he doesn't miss any more, he will play 77. Again, they might not all be quality games, and he's certainly limped off the ice more than his fair share-- or just laid there as the goal happened --but when he enters negotiation, he'll say that he was available for most of the season and that he's able to play hurt and the GP stat will be in his favor as long as Bob Murray doesn't actually watch the Ducks games. Playing hurt wasn't exactly helpful, but he still played and we don't know if his agreement with Bob Murray was to actually BE healthy or just not to be so hurt that he was unavailable.

My reason for rejecting Wisniewski has less to do with his health and more to do with his unpredictability. Wiz is a loose cannon. There's no telling when he's going to pinch or when he'll be out of position chasing a big hit. The guy just doesn't make good decisions. His outstanding defensive plays usually come from him covering for his own mistakes. The reason he plays with Scott Niedermayer isn't because he deserves to be on the top pairing, it's because Niedermayer is the only one who can recover when Wisniewski does something ridiculous.

Wisniewski has a semi-impressive set of skills. His goal against Niittymaki is a clear example of his offensive abilities. I know you don't mind the mental mistakes, but for a guy who's playing to be one of the top D-men in the organization and wants a long term deal, I don't think his offensive upside makes up for his inability to keep the puck out of the net. Wisniewski is a third pairing guy who should get PP time. If he can accept that kind of contract and those kinds of minutes, then sign him.

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