Battle on the Blueline Depth:
Patrick Wiercioch vs. Alex Biega vs. Andrey Pedan
The Canucks have not officially disclosed how many forwards and defencemen they will have on the team this year. Traditionally, Vancouver has gone with eight blueliners, sometimes converting players like Andrey Pedan and Alex Biega as forwards as needs be.
With Coach Green coming in with a reputation for rolling all four lines in fast-paced, gruelling brand of offence, there is a chance that the Canucks may elect instead to carry two extra forwards and just one extra healthy blueliner.
If that is the case, Biega and Pedan are going to have to work extra hard if they want to make Vancouver think hard about carrying one of them has an eight defenceman. Worse comes to worst for the two, they will have to battle unrestricted free agent acquisition Patrick Wiercioch, the Burnaby native, for the rights to be the seventh defenceman.
Though the Canucks have not seen much of Wiercioch in game action yet, the consensus is that he skates quite well for a 6-foot-5 man.
So far, Pedan has looked okay while Biega has done very well in the role that he has been asked to carry out. Biega was especially noticeable against the Los Angeles Kings at the beginning of preseason, where he lived up to his nickname “Bulldog” and was hard in pursuit of the puck.
The classic Biega was there but there was a play that showed Biega’s evolution as a creative offensive threat.
The Harvard graduate flashed his hand-eye coordination knocking down a Kings clearing effort at the blueline, faked a slap shot and threaded a pass to Jake Virtanen who then one-timed the puck against Jonathan Quick for a goal.
And finally, Biega’s versatility as a fourth-line forward should not be overlooked. He looked great on the forecheck, working hard as always.
The No. 7 defenceman role is Wiercioch’s is to lose. Pedan can rival Wiercioch’s physicality but not Wiercioch’s offensive upside (albeit limited) and NHL experience. Biega can definitely challenge Wiercioch for the spot in these two games and may make the NHL as the versatile No. 8 blueliner/14th forward.
Wiercioch will definitely get some time to prove himself with his new club.