2014-15 By The Numbers: #6 Dennis Wideman

There was a time, not long ago, where Dennis Wideman may have been regarded as the biggest waste of cap space on the Calgary Flames roster.

Reports were that last summer, the Flames did everything they could to rid themselves of his contract. They couldn’t, and luckily for them, Wideman responded with his best offensive season in years. In the locker room, he seemed jovial and much more at-ease than he had in years past. It came across in his play, particularly down the stretch as he and Kris Russell were heavily relied-upon with Mark Giordano on the sidelines.

But offensive numbers aren’t everything. How was Wideman’s season on the whole?

100 even-strength minutes together is my cut-off for WOWY analysis:

Player Together Apart Diff.
Russell 43.4% 40.8% +2.6%
Gaudreau 45.5% 47.7% -2.2%
Hudler 44.6% 48.4% -3.8%
Monahan 44.1% 46.9% -2.8%
Bouma 40.6% 42.1% -1.5%
Jones 40.7% 45.6% -4.9%
Colborne 43.0% 42.3% +0.7%
Jooris 48.0% 46.8% +1.2%
Byron 47.6% 46.0% +1.6%
Backlund 42.4% 47.5% -5.1%
Glencross 40.0% 48.0% -8.0%
Raymond 41.1% 44.7% -3.6%
Granlund 37.4% 43.9% -6.5%
Stajan 44.7% 44.6% +0.1%
Bollig 41.4% 41.5% -0.1%

If you’ve already read the Kris Russell rundown from earlier, you can see that this is basically the exact same pattern. Jooris and Byron – good possession players – perform well with Wideman, possibly because they do so with everybody. Everyone else? More or less unchanged, or appreciably worse.

This is a dangerous, dangerous thing particularly with guys like Wideman and Russell, who played a ton of Calgary’s even-strength minutes this year. Calgary was insanely dependent on two defensive pairings. One, Brodie and Giordano, generally made all the forwards they played with better in terms of possession. The other, Russell and Wideman, generally made everyone worse. That’s something that’ll need to change for the Flames to get better.

In terms of his points and offensive contributions, he did quite well. He had a career-best season with 56 points in 80 games, and he added 7 assists in 11 playoff games. To put that in context: he more-than-doubled his Flames career points total based on this season alone, and had his first 50-point season since 2008-09. However, he did score more than a third of his points (and 6 of his 15 goals) on the power-play, which shows you where his strengths really lie.

Let’s be blunt: Wideman is a player with a great shot and tremendous instincts in the offensive zone. He’s a great power-play contributor. But wowzers, he is not particularly good at even-strength, and his deployments are reasonably tough but a lot easier than Brodie and Giordano’s, but relatively he’s struggling.

defense

If Wideman was used more like David Schlemko was – sheltered third-pairing minutes, along with some power-play time, his impact on his team’s possession game probably wouldn’t be nearly as negative.

On a good team, Wideman’s a rock-solid #5 defender with some power-play minutes. On Calgary? He’s a #4 who’s in a bit over his head and, as a result, he’s dragging down the players on the ice with him a bit. (For the record, Russell’s a #4 who’s playing as a #3, and having a similar drag-down impact on his teammates.)

Wideman’s figured out his offensive game, but he needs some sheltering to figure out the defensive side. To give him that shelter, it’s likely the Flames will need to make some off-season changes.

2014-15 BY THE NUMBERS

  • MWflames

    I keep saying it & keep getting trashed for it but Widemans value & 2 years left may be at his highest value. Too many are skewed with this unexpected playoff run. Brodano got us through the dregs of the schedule & more or less set up this run. But….. our 2nd pairing has to be upgraded either in a proven older player or a very good young on the cusp d man. That is the route I think BT should go. Lets face facts. The forwards next year have the youth & veteran mix to go into next year & we have every reason to have higher expectations from that group. Top 9 coming back is a no-brainer, Money, Gaudreau, Huds, Backs,Bennett, Ferland, Colbourne,Jooris & vets like Stajan, Jones & Raymond are all signed & will be here. This doesn’t include some players that absolutely need to get some time in via injury & lineup shakes that are required from time to time like Shore, Arnold, Hathawa,Wolf. I have no issue with this group of young guys & look forward to seeing youth push the vets out.

    The blue line…ugggh. Russell has 1 more year left at 2.5mill, last year he earned every nickel but the stats show right now at best he is a #4 dman. If he progresses & I think he can, it has to be with a defensive partner that will improve his numbers.

    So that leaves Wideman. 5.2 mill on the 3rd pairing & some power play time is a little pricey. Wideman should be an easier sell this draft/summer compared to last year, but I still think we should try & get him sold. Even if we have to sacrifice one of our better young forwards to get a better return. JMO

    • CDB

      Absolutely. His value will never be higher. He’s starting to get up there in age, wasn’t the fleetest of foot to begin with, and by the time Calgary is a Stanley Cup contender he will be way over the hill. Sell now. Better to sell an asset a year early than a year late.

      I wouldn’t do it at the expense of a younger player for someone to just take him. but if there is a decent market and you can get return, sell.

      • Big Ell

        Would you get rid of him this summer or wait until the trade deadline? I know that his value is sky high but it always seems like veteran d-men get a good return at the deadline even with mixed performance.

        • Greg

          The best opportunity might be in July once Green, Franson, and Petry are signed and there’s teams that missed out and still have cap room are desperate for a dman. But that might describe the flames more than any other team.

        • CDB

          Good point. I really don’t know, but I like the idea of seeing if someone who misses out on Green/Petry/Franson is willing to overpay after July 1. The risk in waiting until 2016 deadline is injury or if his performance reverts more back to what we have seen the previous few years. I’d probably lean towards moving him in the summer

    • CDB

      Agreed that Wideman’s value has never been greater. His scoring helped us get to the dance, and more than accounted for the goals he let in.

      So the question of the day is how do you replace the loss of Wideman’s scoring if you trade him? The ideal replacement would be a top-flight prospect D, with a 2/3 ceiling, tough as nails, who can add to scoring on the power play. We are likely not getting that for Wideman.

      The ideal situation would be to bring in a stay-at-home defender that can cover up for Wideman when he goes all-offense. Oh, and that D-man would need to be able to hit like a freight-train.
      Hmmm, could Ferland play defense? 🙂

      • Joe Flames

        You keep Engelland around as depth as we’re not currently against the cap, and if we eat some salary we can probably get a 4th for him at the 2016 draft.

        Morrisson making the team and showing middle pairing capability is the sort of thing this rebuild needs. I like Engelland as a #6/#7 even if he’s overpaid, but you can’t show loyalty to his contract. He was a vet brought in to keep roster competition intact, bjt showing excessive loyalty to a guy whose claim to fame is 4 minute long shifts where his only ability is to ice the puck will hold the team back in the long term. If you’re a vet that can play, push possession, and be a rock in your own zone that’s one thing (I.E. Schlemko / Giordano) but if you’re a vet that’s vastly outmatched in your role yet keeping farm guys off the roster artificially – a whole nother deal.

  • Toofun

    Before this year I was a Wideman hater. This year made me eat my words. He was scoring goals, he had amazing chemistry with Gaudreau, he was in much better shape, he tried harder and played with more intensity and after Gio went down he stepped it up to yet another level and really really exceeded my expectations!

    I can’t express how much I appreciate underestimating him and everything he did for the franchise and the rookies this year.

    Having said that, sell him now. Thanks Dennis, great job this year. Good luck with your new team next year.

  • smith

    The avalanche may be deluded enough to give up quite a bit for wideman. Could they be misled about his effectiveness. The flames could probably sign an equivalent defenseman in free agency. i.e. Franson, Ehrhoff, Green etc….

  • RKD

    I agree his value has never been higher, I was impressed with his offensive production but more so how he responded after being a healthy scratch from Hartley. He could have pouted and gone through the motions for the rest of the season but instead he played better. Paired with Russell, it gives up a solid top 4 pairing. When Gio went down, everyone worried if Wides could handle more minutes and he did just fine. Removing him would leave a big especially if Gio or Brodie or Russell got injured.

  • MWflames

    Wideman and russell are both probably capable of playing good second line minutes… if they’re not the best defenceman on that line. Calgary’s best way to improve this offseason would be to bring in a bona fide #3.

    However, this team is still growing, so if the flames head into next season with status quo in the top 4, then I think that shows a great deal of patience from BT. Next year isn’t our year. this would give our prospects another year to show what they’re made of before he goes shopping.

    But if the right player becomes available, you go hard for it i suppose.

  • MWflames

    So… You have commented that for the vast majority of the time, either Brodie/Giordano or Wideman/Russell were on the ice. Which means for Brodie/Giordano to improve the entire team relative to their normal status, wouldn’t Wideman/Russell almost HAVE to be the opposite? There is only so much time you can spend on the ice, and if you are doing relative comparisons for defenders with forwards, well…

    I am not implying that Wideman/Russell are better than the shake we’ve given them, nor am I implying the opposite. What I am suggesting here is that the comparison is basically useless when the third pairing is so sparingly used. What we can say as a given is that Brodie/Giordano are far superior to Russell/Wideman. I do not believe the relative numbers tell a story beyond that.