Dennis Wideman’s season started like any other season. Play top four minutes alongside Kris Russell, hang out on the power play, constantly shoot pucks wide because his name is literally Wide Man.
But things went wrong. Coming off of a career season in which he scored 15 goals and 56 points (both career highs), his shooting percentage dropped from 8.7% to 2.7%. He scored just two goals and 19 points (both career lows) through 51 games.
And that isn’t even getting into the entire fiasco that came about when he got concussed and collided with linesman Don Henderson, who hasn’t worked since that day. Wideman was handed a 20-game suspension, which saw the appeals process go to an independent arbitrator for the first time ever, and he served 19 games of what was ultimately reduced to a 10-game suspension.
It has been a disaster of a season for Wideman. But at least now, it’s officially over… Because after skating backwards into Joe Colborne and falling into the boards right when the Flames scored a goal, he suffered a season-ending tricep injury.
Injury Update: Dennis Wideman will not play the remaining 12 games of the #Flames season due to a tricep injury.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 18, 2016
So. Here’s where the Flames stand.
They currently have six healthy defencemen: T.J. Brodie, Deryk Engelland, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Jyrki Jokipakka, and Jakub Nakladal. The only way any other defencemen will join the lineup the rest of this season is if one of those six gets hurt, and the Flames are forced to make an emergency recall.
Based on recent history, Tyler Wotherspoon is likely first in line to be recalled, but again: that’s completely contingent on one of those six players getting hurt and being forced to miss at least one game after injury.
Of that defence group, we appear to be getting an extended look of Brodie and Hamilton – the potential defence pairing of the future – together, Giordano with Engelland, and Jokipakka and Nakladal wrapping things up by providing steady, bottom pairing minutes.
With 150:42 played on the power play, Wideman was the sixth most used Flame to frequent the man advantage, even with 19 games lost. His season being over opens a new slot on the backend. Giordano, Hamilton, and Brodie should be guarantees to man the point. After them, Nakladal has been the most-used remaining blueliner on the power play, so we can probably expect him to fill that role for the remainder of the year.
Also – based on both the eye test, and extremely small statistical sample sizes (the Flames were a 47.5% 5v5 CF team before Wideman’s suspension; they’ve been a 48.3% team after), the Flames might actually have a better defence group without Wideman in the lineup.
Which brings us to this point: all we know at this point in time is that Wideman’s season is over. We don’t know what his recovery time is.
This is important because there’s a limited window in which teams can buy out players. The first buyout period starts on either June 15 or 48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup Final – whichever comes later – and ends on June 30, the day before free agency.
And this is the part that needs to be stressed: injured players cannot be bought out.
I don’t know if the Flames are entertaining thoughts of buying out Wideman, but it may be in their best interests to do so. A Wideman buyout saves them $4 million on the cap next season (the year of the cap crunch, so that’s a very valuable $4 million) and frees up a roster spot while moving out a player who shouldn’t have a future with this organization, especially when said organization already may be better off without him in the lineup. It would have the Flames carrying a $2 million cap hit in the 2017-18 season, but that may be more affordable than the $4 million is for next year.
No matter what, though, you hope the guy is okay and recovers as quickly as possible, if only for the sake of being a decent human being wanting the best for another’s health.
… You’re allowed to have ulterior motives, though.