Dennis Wideman: Stats and Analysis

 

 

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.

  • Rad

    Really, Kent? “feasting on buttery circumstances”?

    Best choice of metaphor this month. Just sorry Brent’s not around to read it. Unless he trolls the site as the new Oilers coach. It’s also best read in a Homer Simpson voice (mmmmmm…buttery circumstances…).

    I don’t hate the signing, as long as JBow’s still here and they do make a move for a solid top 6 guy.

  • Colin.S

    @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.

  • CitizenFlame

    I agree. JBo should stay on and Calgary has a solid, if unspectacular top 4. They still need to address the top 6, but you get the feeling Feaster has a few things in the works.

  • CitizenFlame

    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.

  • RexLibris

    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.

  • kbignell

    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.

  • kbignell

    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.

  • Graham

    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.

  • everton fc

    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.

  • the forgotten man

    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.

  • everton fc

    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…

  • CitizenFlame

    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

  • MC Hockey

    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!!!!!

  • MC Hockey

    Hey FlamesFanInHongKong, yes, your “port” argument is very convincing, especially with all the backup proof and comparables you provided (no sarcasm intended of course)

  • MC Hockey

    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 !!!!