A Wideman suspension could complicate roster moves

Ryan Pike
January 30 2016 10:00AM

The fate of Calgary Flames blueliner Dennis Wideman is up in the air right now. The 32-year-old is presently suspended indefinitely by the National Hockey League for his collision with linesman Don Henderson, pending a hearing on Tuesday.

The specifics of Wideman's status as a suspended player, along with winger Micheal Ferland coming off of the injured reserve, could greatly complicate Calgary's roster moves when the All-Star Break ends.

THE ROSTER RIGHT NOW

As of this moment, the Calgary Flames have 23 players on their active roster:

  • Goaltenders Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo
  • Defensemen Kris Russell, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman (suspended), T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Dougie Hamilton and Deryk Engelland
  • Forwards Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris, Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, David Jones, Mason Raymond, Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler, Brandon Bollig, Markus Granlund, Michael Frolik and Sam Bennett

Micheal Ferland is on the injured reserve, but is poised to return after the break.

Now, prior to Wideman clobbering an on-ice official, the thought process was "Hey, will the Flames demote Markus Granlund (because he's waiver exempt) or will they put a veteran in the AHL?" But a Wideman suspension provides an added wrinkle considering he still counts as part of the active roster and carries a cap hit while he's suspended.

THE IMPLICATIONS

What does that mean? Well, that means that the Flames have a choice between (a) playing Ladislav Smid every game and carrying six defenders on their roster for a while or (b) sending a second player to the AHL (in addition to the player they send down to open a spot for Ferland) so they don't have to rely entirely on Smid. For the curious, the Flames presently have $72.58 million in full-year cap numbers on their books - some of the players spend time on the IR and in the AHL, so the functional cap hit is a bit lower - but fundamentally they're right at the cap. They can go over the cap by their performance bonuses, but they lose however much they go over this year's cap off of next year's cap. Long story short: the cap is a concern right now.

If Wideman receives a fairly lengthy suspension - basically anything longer than three or four games - I cannot fathom the Flames rolling with Smid as an everyday defender. Somebody would have to be sent down, requiring waivers if it's anybody but Granlund. And depending on who that player is, that means the Flames could lose somebody useful or have to bury a veteran's contract (at least temporarily) in the AHL in order to make the roster and cap requirements work.

Then again, if the Flames see themselves as truly out of the playoff picture, playing Smid as an everyday defender for five or 10 games could go a long way towards cementing a good pick for June's NHL Draft.

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Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. He's just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.
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#1 MattyFranchise
January 30 2016, 11:08AM
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I'm on my phone right now and can't check the numbers but I recall that Smid and Engelland actually performed pretty well together.

They only have about 40 ES minutes though so who knows.

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#2 wattree
January 30 2016, 11:11AM
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Surprisingly, Smid hasn't been all that bad this year. Him and Englland together might actually be an upgrade from Wideman

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#3 Jeff In Lethbridge
January 30 2016, 11:34AM
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while I am of the minority group that thinks Wideman clobbered him without realizing his actions (another debate, not my point) I still expect him to get a long suspension. I would be very surprised if it was as low as 10 games, and would NOT be surprised if it was somewhere between twenty games and a whole season. The ref fraternity is outraged and will throw all they have at this.

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#4 FlamesRule
January 30 2016, 11:49AM
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Wideman has played so weakly this year I think Smid will actually be an improvement.

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#5 Jake the Snail
January 30 2016, 06:00PM
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FlamesRule wrote:

Wideman has played so weakly this year I think Smid will actually be an improvement.

..and if Smid plays well enough until the TDL he becomes trade bait for a team looking for defensive depth.

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#6 MattyFranchise
January 30 2016, 07:56PM
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MattyFranchise wrote:

I'm on my phone right now and can't check the numbers but I recall that Smid and Engelland actually performed pretty well together.

They only have about 40 ES minutes though so who knows.

Smid and Engelland together 42 ES minutes come in at 52.9% CF with 52.2% ZS.

Smid and Wideman together 74 ES minutes come in at 41.4% CF with 46.2% ZS.

Engelland and Wideman together 220 ES minutes come in at 37.9% CF with 51.2% ZS.

I definitely think that Smid and Engelland are worth a try since they won't have the roster space to call someone up.

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#7 loudogYYC
January 30 2016, 09:51PM
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It's simple. Waive and demote Bollig, bury $900K of his $1.2M salary and call up Nakladal who is a RH shot and likely an upgrade on Smid. This way you keep 7 dmen, bury a press box player and actually save $200K in cap space (Nakladal makes $700K IIRC). This also lets us have a look at the caliber of dman that would be replacing Russell if/when he's traded.

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#8 joey joe joe jr shabadoo
January 31 2016, 09:26AM
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@loudogYYC, this is the best option as far as I can see.

The sooner the Flames can deal Russell, the better. Losing two of their top 5-D will help them in the reverse standings. The Flames need to give Nakladal a shot, and freeing up a spot to give Kulak another look will help determine what they have in the player.

Goes without saying, but at this point the least desirable outcome for the season would be to see he flames drafting outside of the top 5 & out of the playoffs. The later is all but a garauntee now.

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#9 Kevin R
January 31 2016, 11:11AM
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loudogYYC wrote:

It's simple. Waive and demote Bollig, bury $900K of his $1.2M salary and call up Nakladal who is a RH shot and likely an upgrade on Smid. This way you keep 7 dmen, bury a press box player and actually save $200K in cap space (Nakladal makes $700K IIRC). This also lets us have a look at the caliber of dman that would be replacing Russell if/when he's traded.

Not bad but I still think you keep Bollig accessible in the press box. I would waive Raymond & send him down, it does the same thing from cap savings & allowing that 7th Dman. Bollig still does have a small amount of utility for toughness you'll never get out of Raymond. If he gets picked off waivers, highly unlikely, the benefit to our cap is 3 times the amount of Bollig.

I think Hudler will get better value as we get close to the TDL. Russell's return I think will be as much now as at the TDL, so I would move him sooner & agree Kulak & Nakladal are the obvious call ups.

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