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.
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.