Dennis Wideman: Stats and Analysis

Kent Wilson
June 27 2012 03:01PM

 

 

As the discussion still rages in the comments section of the last article, it's time to take a closer look at the newest Calgary Flame.

Dennis Wideman is a 29-year old undrafted defender who has become a decent top-4 option from the back-end over the last few years. His coming out party was in 2007-08 with the Bruins when he scored 13 goals and 37 points. He followed that up with a 13-goal, 50-point career season. He regressed heavily as is most players custom after that and, after a brief stint in Florida, ended up in Washington as their 3rd/4th defender.

Wideman is better than average in terms of putting up points on the backend. He's been good for around 40-points a season since establishing himself and has a hard, accurate shot from the point. The Flames certainly addressed a need when the acquired him given the big hole in their top four rotation and their lackluster PP.

On the other hand, he can be clumsily in his own end and prone to the odd give-away. He's never really been in any team's top-2 defense consistently as a result.

The Underlying Numbers

Wideman played the third toughest minutes for the Capitals last year, although the gulf between Karl Alzner and John Carlson and everyone else on the Caps blueline last season was huge. Wideman also started just under 50% of his shifts in the defensive zone, so he wasn't feasting on buttery soft circumstances or anything. His 0.81 even strength points/60 minutes of ice was good for third amongst regular defenders.

Wideman's possession stats were just okay in that role (-1.09 corsi/60, or +2.5 corsi/60 relative). Those were right in the middle of every other defender on the club.

Neil Greenberg counted scoring chances for Washington last year. Wideman's scoring chance ratio was 49.6% over the course of the season, just a hair below a mediocre 50% rating. That suggests he would have been better served with at least slightly easier circumstances*.

the crowd at Japer's Rink described Wideman more or less as a good offensive option who was questionable defensively. The collectively gave him an average grade of "5/10" for the season.

* It's worth noting that in the playoffs, Hunter didn't particularly trust Wideman. He played him the 5th most out of any WAS defender at even strength in the post-season and gave him the easiest zone start ratio (53.9%).

The Risks

Wideman was one of the few decent top-4/offensive options in a fairly shallow UFA pool this year, so he was probably going to get paid by someone. That said, the Flames assume some real risk with this contract due to it's size and length. Wideman has never been an anchor quality defenseman and has probably peaked as capable, but hardly dominating, top-4 defender (particularly behind his own blueline). He turns 30 next March, meaning the huge bulk of his dollars will be paid out during the downslope of his career.

If Wideman sustains his current form for a 3+ years, Flames probably have an at-value proposition here. If he takes a step backwards at any point - particularly sooner rather than later - and they have another contract they'll be looking to dump down the road. There's almost no chance they have him on a plus value deal though (meaning, he will probably never outperform his dollars to any great extent)

I don't know if Feaster means to supplement the current Flames outfit with Wideman or use his addition to get rid of a ticket the club doesn't want (Jay Bouwmeester). If the intention is to replace JayBo with Wideman, well...that's a fairly poor bet. Wideman's better offensively and better on the PP, but all indications are he would get killed playing the sort of minutes Bouwmeester has survived most of his career. Particularly if, like JayBo, his partner is Chris Butler.

Conclusion

Wideman is a better option than, say, Hannan, no doubt, but he's also almost 5-times as much for 5-times as long (so he better be). He adds another weapon to the back-end on the PP and should help one of the more offensively punchless bluelines in the league put up a few more points next year.

He's not a guy that is going to consistently or efficiently shut down the opposition's big guns however. And the heft and length of his new deal means he has to more or less sustain his current form in order to avoid becoming a Sarich-like alabtross down the road.

NHL GM's like to defer risk down the road by inking long-term deals to secure their targets. It's a somewhat sensible strategy because "winning now" is how most managers and coaches are judged (outside of Edmonton at least). That said, if Wideman struggles to any degree and/or if the Flames run in place again, there will be frowns about this contract this time next summer.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#51 MC Hockey
June 27 2012, 07:49PM
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Deal is defensible to some degree because:

1) Small UFA D-man crop for July 1 and competition for Suter and Garrision likely make Flames lose on them.

2) Need Right-handed shooting D-man, PP help.

3) Next best option under 30 is Colaiacovo who has injury issues, less physical (arguable) but his style is more defensive-minded and apparently Flames wanted offense (at least from this move).

4) His move to Calgary with no obvious connections will perhaps show the Flames are serious about winning and that destination not that bad (especially for Canaadian players).

5) Underlying numbers not brutal such as with Jets signing of goalie Pavelec to 5-year deal at 19.5M.

6) You may have paid even more on July 1, who knows.

7) With improved defensive play, could become a top D-man and replace Bouwmeester if he leaves (and I don't mean now, I think they keep both for a few years).

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#52 schevvy
June 27 2012, 07:59PM
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What is the big fuss about the NMC?? People with NMC's get moved all the time around the league. We've seen it here too, Regher, Langkow, Bourque (?). It's not that big of a deal. If he underperforms he'll probably want out anyway.

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#53 Canucks Suck
June 27 2012, 08:15PM
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Hopefully noone pulls a roberto trolluongo on the flames in that case. But yeah the flames do seem to have a way of moving out NMCs

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#54 suba steve
June 27 2012, 08:22PM
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MangoT

"Allen at less than 3.5 million $, 3 year deal. Not a huge overpayment or a huge long term commitment"

You get Allen's name on that contract,then I will believe it. Allen made $3.15 million in the final year of hisexpiring 5 year deal. He is 31. He is going to want to get paid. Also, a 3 year deal to him expires when he is 34, just like this deal to Wideman. In that case all you are giving up is the 29-30 year old years of the deal, and those are likely to be the most productive for the player.

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#55 T&A4Flames
June 27 2012, 08:36PM
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MangoTanker wrote:

Allen at less than 3.5 million $, 3 year deal. Not a huge overpayment or a huge long term commitment

Seriously?! He has ZERO offense! He is another LH shot. You must have something else.

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#56 ChinookArch
June 27 2012, 08:52PM
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RexLibris wrote:

@Kent

"What gives me pause about this deal is it is likely to splashier than it is effective. It's the kind of move franchises who are afraid to admit they are mediocre (or worse) make in a gambit to fool either their fan base or themselves into thinking they are still contenders."

This is hilarious as in the other thread I mentioned that when I first heard the deal (term and money) the name Sheldon Souray went through my head. And the circumstances that you describe here are virtually identical to those in which the Oilers found themselves the summer they signed him.

I don't have an issue with the trade. In fact I would argue that it was a very good trade by Feaster. The acquisition, in and of itself, makes the team better.

The contract, though, is one that I would be a little more than just nervous about. The apparent lack of any restrictive clauses should make coping with it easier down the road, but regardless of the salary-cap increase, it is still a sizeable commitment by term for such a player.

*edit* I just read that he has a full NMC. Ouch. That alters things a bit. Suffice to say that, as an Oilers fan, a full NMC on that contract makes me smile. Sorry guys.

This signing reminded me of Sourey in Edmonton as well. In fairness to Wideman though he is a better defenseman, a better PP quarterback, and will likely be much better in the dressing room. Of course, Satan would likely have been better in the dressing room compared Sourey's time in Edmonton.

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#57 non descript
June 27 2012, 08:54PM
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while you can, i guess, hey kent?

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#58 ChinookArch
June 27 2012, 08:59PM
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schevvy wrote:

What is the big fuss about the NMC?? People with NMC's get moved all the time around the league. We've seen it here too, Regher, Langkow, Bourque (?). It's not that big of a deal. If he underperforms he'll probably want out anyway.

The big fuss is that NMC cost the seller when they want to unload a contract. Regher was traded with a 2nd round pick, for Butler. So, they are more difficult to move and costly as well.

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#59 schevvy
June 27 2012, 09:05PM
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@ChinookArch

That 2nd round pick was traded so Buffalo would take on Kotalik's salary, no way it was because Regher had a NMC.

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#60 Baalzamon
June 27 2012, 09:06PM
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@Derzie

"Why is his salary a concern?...What he gets paid is meaningless."

salary cap says hi.

In a salary cap world you want players to be signed to value contracts (ie. less-than-or-equivalent-to what they're worth) so you can sign more quality players. It also makes them easier to move (Matt Stajan--albatross) if they're signed to value. If Wideman works out, the 5.25 is.. okay. If he flops, that contract becomes an anchor fast.

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#61 Franko J
June 27 2012, 09:34PM
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@ Cowtown 1989

I think he signed with St.Louis. I believe at the time Button was GM. At the time it was Wideman, Giordano, and Ritchie Regher, Robyn's younger brother who were on a try-out basis and Flames management decided to offer contracts to Giordano and Regher.

Now almost ten years later the Flames sign a player who wasn't good enough then to make the AHL farm team to a "MAXX LOTTO" like contract. Desperate times for a desperate team. How the heck is Calgary going to be able to sign other players with the team already at the 50 contract limit? As well, there are still more holes to fill in the roster.

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#62 ChinookArch
June 27 2012, 09:36PM
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@schevvy

NMC in and of themselves are not bad, but when coupled with an expensive and long contract, they make a bad situation worse for management. Cammalleri came with $7M contract, which is probably $2M too much, just to rid the Flames of the Bourque contract of $5M.

My real fear is that players and agents look at Calgary as an easy place to get a NMC, and that arguable makes Feaster's job even harder.

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#63 MangoTanker
June 27 2012, 09:38PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

Seriously?! He has ZERO offense! He is another LH shot. You must have something else.

In Robyn Regehr's time in Calgary, before the Flames started missing the playoffs, he produced "ZERO offense", yet was considered a lynch-pin on the team's backend because he provided the club with a defenceman that could help shut down the other teams top players and play some of the toughest minutes on the team effectively. His salary was 4.02$ million per year.

Jay Bouwmeester doesn't provide the offensive punch that his price tag would demand of him, but here at FlamesNation everyone knows he's an integral part of the team. Why? Because he plays some of the toughest minutes on the team, and gives guys more favourable ice time to work with.

Bryan Allen would fit well with Bouwmeester, as JBouw would finally get a guy that could help him handle the other team's heavies. Wideman is NOT going to be used in the same role. He'll provide some offense, but with his defensive lapses he could cost the Flames. Look, I'm not saying that I hate the move, I'm just saying that I think the Flames could have spent that money on someone else.

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#64 Franko J
June 27 2012, 09:45PM
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@ Schevvy & Chinook Arch

From my understanding we would have received Buffalos first round pick last year if Regher did hum and haw and the owner from Buffalo didn't have to pay him a visit at his Lakehouse to convince him. Players like having the NMC & NTC clause in their contract for leverage. See Iginla. See Jokinen. Having such a clause for a player is like being a free agent, except for the fact that a player usually has a list of 5 to 10 teams to choose from instead of the whole league bargaining for their services. See Rick Nash.

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#65 meat1
June 27 2012, 09:54PM
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I think Feaster HAS to get rid of Babchuk and HIS salary, not JBO. Babchuk now has no role on this team. Period. Making that move would make the fan base more understanding of today's events. But I'm not suggesting that we package up our future draft picks (ala Kotalik) to make it happen.

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#66 the forgotten man
June 27 2012, 10:03PM
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The Feast paid market value for Wideman in this UFA market...I have no issue with that. Once a team needs to go to the UFA market, they are going to overpay in both price, term and maneuverability (NTCs)..it is akin to being at the hotel and having to dip into the minibar.

The organization has obviously chosen to put themselves in this position with a win now attitude and roll he dice with Iggy, Kipper et al.I disagree with this approach and therefore have a problem with the Wideman signing in this context.

Again, looking back at the draft last weekend,if the Flames needed to shore up with an offensive defenseman why not pick Maata?? He has 2 inches on Wideman, way better skater and as per all the Jankowski boosters...Maata has way more upside than Wideman. And to boot you get Maata at an entry level rookie contract freeing up multiple millions to overpay for some actual goal scoring for this team if it wants to win it all now.

Instead they pissed away their fist round pick on a 5 year project one week and then the next week sign guys as if to win now... I am just confused and feeling schizophrenic.

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#67 T&A4Flames
June 27 2012, 10:07PM
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MangoTanker wrote:

In Robyn Regehr's time in Calgary, before the Flames started missing the playoffs, he produced "ZERO offense", yet was considered a lynch-pin on the team's backend because he provided the club with a defenceman that could help shut down the other teams top players and play some of the toughest minutes on the team effectively. His salary was 4.02$ million per year.

Jay Bouwmeester doesn't provide the offensive punch that his price tag would demand of him, but here at FlamesNation everyone knows he's an integral part of the team. Why? Because he plays some of the toughest minutes on the team, and gives guys more favourable ice time to work with.

Bryan Allen would fit well with Bouwmeester, as JBouw would finally get a guy that could help him handle the other team's heavies. Wideman is NOT going to be used in the same role. He'll provide some offense, but with his defensive lapses he could cost the Flames. Look, I'm not saying that I hate the move, I'm just saying that I think the Flames could have spent that money on someone else.

Ok. I will concede that I think the contract is a risk and an overpay, as are most UFA signings. But I like the player and I believe he fits with the mandate that Feaster has set; to make the team an exciting, offensive minded team. He is perhaps the best choice in this years UFA class for that role and we paid no more than what someone else would have paid.

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#68 MangoTanker
June 27 2012, 10:17PM
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@T&A4Flames

I do agree with you that this is an excellent PR move. It adds a certain high octane offensive sense that hasn't really been around since Dion Phaneuf. Wideman has a cannon of a shot and can quarterback the powerplay. And yes, the Flames paid probably what anyone would have had to pay in order to sign Wideman on the open market.

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#69 Franko J
June 27 2012, 10:29PM
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@ the Forgotten Man

The Flames don't believe in rebuilding. The Ownership is all about winning now. Until the Saddledome is 1/2 empty that is when Ownership will realize that their approach doesn't work anymore. For the time being that is why there is FN. To vent or opinionate every move this team makes. Like yourself I sometimes wonder if the management has the right plan in place. Who knows - only Flames management. In the meantime all we can do as a fan is to hope, pray and cheer.

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#70 the forgotten man
June 27 2012, 11:55PM
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Colin.S wrote:

@the forgotten man

Are you seriously suggesting that Olli Maata would be able to step in to the NHL and play a top four role and out perform Wideman? Ive seen people suggest that Feaster is on bathsalts from this signing, but you just may be as well.

D. Olli Maatta-London Knights: The 6’2″ 198Lb Finnish defenseman is a workhorse for the London Knights and is the teammate of current Bruins’ prospect Jared Knight. Maatta’s positioning is excellent for his age and his hockey IQ is through the roof. He has a great skating ability and rarely gets caught in transition. He is also keen to take the body but does not do so to go for the big hit, instead he uses his physicality to separate opposing players from the puck. A strong two way presence, Maatta has solid offensive instincts and projects to be an excellent number two defenseman, he may not be a player you can anchor a defense on but he will certainly be welcome on any top pairing. It has also been said about Olli that he is the most NHL ready D-man in this years draft. In 58 games with the Knigts he had 5 goals, 27 assists, and a plus 25.

1 million vs. 5+ million...I may be on bath salts but I still know the value of 4 million dollars especially when I have a CAPPED budget. Further, sure Wideman may pot more assists and slap in a few more from the point but everywhere I read today says he is a liability in his own end and slow and he is a negative player over his NHL career.

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#71 Colin.S
June 28 2012, 12:08AM
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@the forgotten man

Really, you are on crack, just because they say he is "nhl ready" doesn't mean he can take his OHL talents and translate them to the NHL in a top 4, 24 minute a night role against the best players in the NHL.

Wideman has plays 24 minutes a game and can provide offense. He is a proven NHL defender and big minute defender, if you severaly think some rookie who is good in the WHL can come in and dominate than I know where to put your opinion.

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#72 CitizenFlame
June 28 2012, 12:11AM
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Better yet, Calgary could have traded down, nabbed the 2nd rounder, still got Maata at 21, and still made this deal to sign Wideman. Maata, could then go to Finland fulfill his military duties, then been in the mix next year.

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#73 RexLibris
June 28 2012, 01:38AM
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@Colin

The Oilers aren't "banking" on Schultz (presumably that is the college player in your reference) to anchor the defense.

They are pursuing a highly coveted free agent defensive prospect. There is also speculation that they may deal for either Niclas Hjalmarsson or Marc Methot as well as pursuing Matt Carle or Jason Garrison in the free agent market. All of these players are of interest to the Oilers. Schultz is just one, and a very talented one at that.

Wideman is a better defenseman than Souray, perhaps. It is the deal and the circumstances around it that reminded me of the Souray signing. The Oilers' ownership wanted him and so Lowe was told to sign him. It was the kind of overpay that happens on desperate teams with out of touch ownership and management.

Barring a move of either Babchuk or Bouwmeester the Flames are locking up a tremendous amount of trade-clause'd dollars in their defense. In short, they are becoming an unbalanced roster.

If they do trade Babchuk it might have to go with more draft picks to sweeten the deal. If they trade Bouwmeester then I believe they will be stuck with a poor contract and an insufficient player while slowly circling down towards the bottom of the standings.

Wideman is a good acquisition. The contract is what would make me nervous.

And I never said anything about Carle or Garrison being cheaper. From everything I have heard Garrison is asking the moon from Florida.

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#74 FlamesFanInHongKong
June 28 2012, 05:29AM
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I live in Hong Kong, one of the world's busiest ports. Trust me when I say this, "the Calgary Flames are being run by a bunch of Drunken Sailors in disguise! Feaster really overpaid for Wideman! They should have waited for the dust to settle before dipping their toes in. They have overcommitted big time.

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#75 kbignell
June 28 2012, 06:10AM
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The wideman contract isn't as bad as you think. Last year's free agent frenzy had a lot of huge paydays. James wisnewski 6 year 5.5 mil per year, Ed jovanoski 4 mil per year, christian ehrhoff 10 year 40 mil. This year's free agent list doesn't with defenseman is quite short. it would be nice to get someone like ryan suter or matt carle, but suter will not be a flame and carle will most likely be a flyer again. with those 2 names gone what is there left. Kubina, and spacek. Wideman would have got an even larger payday than the flames have given him.

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#76 negrilcowboy
June 28 2012, 07:00AM
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wideman will fill a need,i dont like the length but thats what the demands are these days.d is set unless they counter this with a bonehead move and ship out gio or jbore. need a top flight centre now and the team is a huge upgrade from years past. the 50 contracts kinda has the hands tied though.

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#77 Graham
June 28 2012, 08:15AM
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The Wideman signing takes one of the better UFA d men off the market. The reduced supply may well help to increase JBo trade value, I don't see JBo being a Flames on July 2nd.

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#78 the forgotten man
June 28 2012, 09:13AM
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Colin.S wrote:

@the forgotten man

Really, you are on crack, just because they say he is "nhl ready" doesn't mean he can take his OHL talents and translate them to the NHL in a top 4, 24 minute a night role against the best players in the NHL.

Wideman has plays 24 minutes a game and can provide offense. He is a proven NHL defender and big minute defender, if you severaly think some rookie who is good in the WHL can come in and dominate than I know where to put your opinion.

Dude...chill out...we are talking about hockey.

Attend an anger management class or something.

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#79 Alt
June 28 2012, 09:23AM
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Picking up Wideman only makes sense if a JBO trade is,nt in the works.Move Babchuk and add some toughness

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#80 everton fc
June 28 2012, 10:30AM
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Just a concept here: If we added Allen, as well... Smith would perhaps be #7, and Babchuk would have to gone.

Allen would give us toughness... Immediately, on the back-end. What would his price tag be??

I know this won't happen, and many people are high on Smith.

"Buy low/sell high"? I wonder...

Concept:

Bouwmeester/Gio or Bouwmeester/Allen Gio/Wideman or Allen/Wideman Butler/Brodie

That's a pretty solid backend.

I am beginning to believe Butler can play tough minutes, though. Which is a good thing.

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#81 Baalzamon
June 28 2012, 10:44AM
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Babchuk to Columbus for a 1st rounder!!!

Unfortunately, I don't think even Howson would go for that. Maybe the Wild...

seriously though, the Flames need to ship out Babchuk's contract. They're right at the limit, and he's dead capspace besides. Move him out in return for a draft pick. Heck, I'd take a conditional 2nd where the condition is if he scores 50 points. So in other words, move him for nothing.

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#82 edmontowner
June 28 2012, 12:35PM
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Another brutal move and no movement clause... Oilers will be passing the Flames on the basement stairs this season and quickly too if the Flames mgmt dont stop denying that their own rebuild is already past due...

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#83 BurningSensation
June 28 2012, 01:46PM
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edmontowner wrote:

Another brutal move and no movement clause... Oilers will be passing the Flames on the basement stairs this season and quickly too if the Flames mgmt dont stop denying that their own rebuild is already past due...

I'll take that bet.

'Rebuilding' is for losers.

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#84 CitizenFlame
June 28 2012, 04:50PM
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I think Babchuk is in the KHL next year. Compensation for Ramo for maybe? What about Carson? Nobody talks about him anymore? Before the back injury, he was a big, physical defensive defenceman, no? I wonder if he can't crack the squad in a 6-7th position. Wideman-Jbo Gio-Butler Brodie-Carson/Smith

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#85 MC Hockey
June 28 2012, 08:16PM
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Hi all, I think some real facts need to be spread like this one:

The Flames are at 50 contracts ONLY until July 1/12 OK! Even without trades, they CAN sign SIX (6) more players then!!

Proof: If you check capgeek.com or nhlnumbers.com you will see this clearly. Capgeek is easier for this as it counts the players in categories (Roster F, D, G, All non-roster). See forwards which includes Comeau already, and add back in the RFA Fs who were qualified (Backlund, Aliu, Jones) to get 12 forwards who ended season with Flames. You also have 7 D who are roster players including Wideman and 2 roster goalies. Under non-roster you add back in 2 guys Irving and Byron to the Non-roster count they havefor 2012-13 and forward (which is 21). So total contracts as of July 1, 2012 is only 12+7+2+2+21= 44. SIX SPOTS OPEN!!!!!

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#86 MC Hockey
June 28 2012, 08:19PM
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Hey FlamesFanInHongKong, yes, your "port" argument is very convincing, especially with all the backup proof and comparables you provided (no sarcasm intended of course)

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#87 MC Hockey
June 28 2012, 08:19PM
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Hey Graham and others, Flames need quality defenseman so no way JayBo is leaving, Feaster already told media. Move on already.

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#88 Clint_laj
June 28 2012, 10:53PM
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Nice work Feaster we said we need a top 4 and 2 top 6 check mark # 1 hope there is more to come. A single right winger top six would change Calgary Two fold. Who cares about the money top 10 in points and top 20 in minutes played lets see there are 30 teams x 6 regular defencemen that's a 180 dmen even if he is 29 that's pretty good so 5 mill for that or we could wait to see if everyone would deny playing for Calgary then we could pay Souray 6 million for 1 year out of desperation. No one is jumping at the bit to play for the flames right now so be happy with anything. Plus look at the free agent pool and ages and there are slim picking. Please keep jbo that is a very nice top 4. 2 dd and 2 puck moving shot blocking offensive defenseman. It seems to be reality until iggy quits on this team they won't stop trying to win with him so heres to iggy retiring a flame and hope he has another 30 in him for 2012/13. Go Flames Go !!!!

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