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.

  • supra steve

    Regardless of how much he is getting paid.

    We have about 10 mil in cap space left for next year? 1 more big fish and the rest would have to be Rookies or replacement level players would they not?

  • TheoF14

    For everyone mentioning Kuba and Colaiacovo, please be quiet. Imagine the conversation we’d be having if either one of them were signed. Seriously, drop it.

    If you consider the free agent market right now, Wideman was the most ideal D-man they could have picked up. Even if he only has 3/5 productive years on this deal, I still think it’s a good signing. Personally though, I don’t think this necessarily paves the way for Boumeester out of town. If we bring in some more offense this year, our defense should be able to get us into the (wait for it)… playoffs. Think about it, we have a decent top 4 defense. We definitely aren’t a contender yet, but certainly are a better “bubble” team.

    • marty

      Exactly my point. This is just another huge contract that a very mediocre team has made to try and fight their way off the “bubble”. Building through free agency is not the way to go. The NYR a few years ago overpayed guys like Redden, Gomez, Drury, Roszival, etc. Those guys didn’t exactly turn that mediocre team into worldbeaters. It was their other guys, like Lundqvist, Callahan, Staal, Girardi, Mcdonaugh, etc.

      Flames management really seem to think that they are just 1 player away from making the playoffs and then making some noise.

      Wideman is a top 4 defenceman that can provide some offense, but it’s not like he’s a defensive stalwart. His contract is expensive and long (and includes a NTC/NMC) which means it has the potential to really blow up in Calgary’s face. I thought the Flames were going to go out and try adn get Bryan Allen, a guy who could’ve play with Bouwmeester, probably wouldn’t have been too expensive, and would’ve been open to a less lengthy contract.

  • supra steve

    Were I a 29 year old player coming off a string of good years and approaching UFA status I would want:

    1. To get paid.

    2. Significant term, knowing that this whole thing was not going to go on forever.

    3. Location, location, location–a nice city with a respected franchise (OK, the respect part is a strech–recently).

    4. Playoffs.

    5. To keep the wife happy (not sure if Wideman is married).

    Would I (as a Flames fan) like less $$ and less term? Yes for sure, but he will be just 34 at the end of this contract–hardly ancient.

    As a UFA you hold a lot of power, and that is why most get long term and big money, especially at 25-29yr old. Other then money, the Flames gave up very little to aquire this player. Add a respectable C to the mix, and next year is looking brighter.

  • everton fc

    Allen’s a tough piece of work. I’ve always liked him. Would have added some serious grit to a sometimes soft backend.

    You go with Allen if you want a cheaper, stay-at-home guy who can hit and is efficient with the mitts off.

    You go with Wideman if you are looking for offence from someone who can eat 20+ minutes of ice-time.

    We chose the latter.

    Is he worth the price tag? I wonder…

    To me, no one really trusts Feaster & friends just yet. A lot of suspicion and reservation from multiple fans here on Flamesnation.

    I am one with reservations… Hoping to be proven wrong. But Wideman is someone we had to look at, as he’s a right-handed shot.

    Can we keep him and Bouwmeester? I wonder….

  • Graham

    Wideman looks to be fully and fairly paid in year one, I just hope it looks reasonable in year 4 and year 5. (it reminds me of the original Sarich contract).
    We needed to add a decent top 4 d man, an accurate shot from the point will certainly help, but it is hard to judge the signing until we know JBo’s status…. Wideman with or without JBo?
    Wonder if we could find a good home for Babchuk?

  • RKD

    While Colaiacovo would have been cheaper, he is more injury prone and puts up less points than Wideman.

    Kuba is six years older at 35, better point totals than Colaiacovo but not as good as Wideman. Allen is 31 with lower point totals than Colaiacovo and Kuba.

    • RKD

      True, but Allen played against much tougher opponents than Wideman. His RelCorsi QualComp last year was 1.014 and had an offensive zone start of 40.3%, whereas Wideman had a RelCorsi QualComp of 0.132 with an offensive zone start of 49.0%.

  • 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.

    Wideman’s not a bad player, but he’s not great. And the Flames paid him a lot. If they don’t address other, more significant issues up front this off-season, his addition won’t really matter in the end because he’s not a difference maker.

    If Calgary was in a position to challenge for something next year with Wideman being a significant piece to a nearly complete puzzle, I’d be a lot less cognizant of the potential, more long-term consequences.

    Hell, perhaps they’ll pull a rabbit out of their hat this summer and firm up the top-6 rotation to a significant degree. If so, cool.

  • Wideman was in the top 20 defenseman for “Time on Ice / Game” at 23:54. Not quite Bouwmeester’s 25:57, but pretty darn close. Clearly he can handle playing big minutes. Pretty impressive given that he really isn’t a penalty killer and most of his minutes are ES & PP.

  • RKD

    Some of the good things about Wideman is that he has playoff experience, is a right handed shot and fills a void in Calgary’s defence.

    He is an offensive d-man, his 46 points last season is higher than any of Jay-Bo’s last three seasons. Mind you, Jay-Bo is a now a shutdown guy. It’s hard to be both.

    The contract length could be concerning mostly in years 4-5, it could be a Cory Sarich situation.

  • I don’t know why people are complaining about this deal so much. Before he went to Florida, people ’round these parts wanted him to become a Flame. Go figure. Dude can score a bit and he blocks shots. Flames need that.

    Besides, when was anyone around here ever concerned with signing older Capitals’ defensemen? Hannan was qualitatively the same, with much fewer points, and was a huge liability in the 10-11 playoffs (his line change cost the Caps the series) – no one had a problem with his contract (albeit shorter and much cheaper). Wideman is a huge upgrade on both Sarich and Hannan, and basically eats up the cap space their UFA-status created.

    As far as playing hard minutes, Wideman will do what Feaster tells him to do. When Feaster says jump, Wideman asks how high. When Feaster says get up off those 2 broken legs and play, Wideman asks for another injection of anaesthetic. Just roll him for 30+ minutes a night then eventually bury him in the minors like Wade Redden. I see where this is going.

  • Cowtown 1989

    Just a little known fact. Wideman attended Flames training camp in the past on a try-out but was able to secure a deal with another team and therefore left.

    • A lot of the Flames moves the last few years are defensible from various angles, but also not slam dunks. Which is part of the reason they continue to run in place.

      Of course, back when Sutter was doing rain dances near the end of his tenure, I had nothing but condemnation.