Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FlamesNation Player Evaluation: Dennis Wideman

After following up his career best season with his career worst in 2015-16, it became quite clear to many that Dennis Wideman would probably remain a Calgary Flame for 2016-17.

There’s the $5.25M cap hit, the no-move clause, the nonexistent trade market, the defensive brainfarts, the frequently taken and frequently wide shots, the baggage still remaining from one particular evening against the Nashville Predators, and so many other things that turned 50-point scorer Dennis Wideman into whipping boy. If you introduced someone to Calgary Flames hockey this year, they’d probably believe his first name was actually a particularly versatile swear word that starts with the letter “F”.

It wasn’t good, but it may not have been as bad as it seemed.

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2016-17 season summary

With the realization that we would be stuck with him for just one more season, it was time to bite the bullet. Just 82 more games.

And goodness gracious, sometimes it was painful.

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It got to a point where the badness was predictable.

Though, there were those magical moments…

… moments that brought us hope.

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But there were fewer of those and more of the former, most particularly during that particularly painful stretch of the season when the Flames lost a bunch of games and faced 4-0 deficits every time. As a result, the team decided to move on in an unspoken way. When they traded for Michael Stone, a defender who wasn’t much of an upgrade (if that), it signalled the end of Wideman. Since the trade (Feb. 20), Wideman only played five more games. Three of them were because Stone was injured and the other two was because the team already clinched a playoff spot.

Compared to last season

Surprisingly, Wideman was better than last season in terms of possession.

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It’s not just CF% where he made a massive jump. Let’s peek at some other stats:

CF% CFrel% xGF% xGFrel% OZS% ZSRrel%
2015-16 44.65% -4.37% 45.73% -4.01% 33.33% 4.32%
2016-17 49.94% -0.94% 47.52% -0.87% 33.05% 3.48%

Those are some manageable stats. Over the 57 games he played, Wideman wasn’t as bad as he seemed, and was considerably better than last year. Of course, his real GF% falling apart (42.65% raw, -4.26% rel) doomed him to the press box, but overall, he was more serviceable than people give him credit for.

It may look as though he has hit a second wind, and with a bit of luck, could potentially be something again, but a lot of this is circumstantial. This year, he had T.J. Brodie as a defence partner, a far cry from possession black hole Kris Russell, and he had Glen Gulutzan as a coach, also a far cry from possession black hole Bob Hartley.

Most common teammates

The WOWY chart backs up that thinking.

With the possible exceptions of Deryk Engelland and Matt Stajan – and even then it’s suspect – there were no teammates that actually benefited from Wideman’s presence. The green dot, representing his CF%, is nearly unanimously below the other dots, suggesting that Wideman is the passenger. He’s not necessarily a bad passenger, but he isn’t helping anyone.

What’s next?

Well, he has to deal with that thing. You’ll still be hearing about him for the next little while. I guess it still involves the team to some extent, so they truly aren’t rid of him either.

But for on ice stuff, this will be goodbye for Wideman. The Flames made that clear when they traded for  Stone and healthy scratched Wideman for all but a few games, only dressing on emergency basis. From that point, both parties pretty much moved on. Wideman probably wouldn’t want to come back to a team that will ditch him in an instant. From the team’s perspective, re-signing him would probably cause a revolt (in addition to making zero sense).

We can’t definitively say whether or not this is the end of his career – that’s his choice – but given the off-ice situation, the rapidly declining play, his reputation around the league, and pretty much everything about this season, it’s hard to see Wideman playing for another team in 2017-18. Auf weidersehen (well I guess there’s still Europe – that’s German for “until we meet again,” Dennis).

#1 – Brian Elliott #5 – Mark Giordano

  • cjc

    Wideman was not good for the team this year, but I hate seeing a guy get piled on. He seemed to handle the benching like a pro, and no other Flames player had their defensive lapses scrutinized like him. I get the flow chart, but it was a bit over the top – and yes, I know, anyone earning that much money needs to accept criticism of their play, but critics should also treat people like humans.

    • Captain Ron

      “but critics should also treat people like humans.”
      I agree with this statement. It always bothers me when I see athletes referred to as garbage or even human garbage based on their game play.

      Some past and present world leaders on the other hand…..

      Considering the lawsuit at hand I’m sure this won’t be the last time we have to read about Wideman though.

  • class1div1

    I hope Wideman files a statement of defence that he did not intend to injure the official and it brings to light the leagues concussion protocol as well as the escalating nasty stickwork.Id love to hear Garys rebuttal.

    • supra steve

      If they go after the league for concussion protocols, that’s fine (Wideman really should not have played another shift after that incident, Flames messed up there), but the PA has to be held accountable too.

    • FLT

      Completely agree. No one will ever know the full story, but I suspect the disciplinary and legal aftermath would have gone down differently had the flames, and league concussion spotters, treated the hit he took just prior with the seriousness it deserved.

      He took a hard hit head first into the boards, to the point where he clearly had difficulty standing, just 8 seconds before he hit the linesman. He was obviously very woozy for a while afterward. And he was allowed to finish the game. That can’t happen. I’m not saying that’s the sole reason he hit Henderson, but I believe it was a factor.

      He’s probably not completely innocent, but I don’t think he deserves full blame either. The guy’s had a rough ride.

  • class1div1

    The League What have you done to decrease concussions and has it worked?
    The Players Association. What have you done to decrease concussions and has it worked?
    The Officials Why wasn’t the whistle blown when it was obvious that Widemans head had been driven into the glass and he was unsteady on his skates?
    The Flames Why wasn’t Wideman immediately sent for concussion protocol?
    Wideman Why did you not take a knee after getting concussed?
    Henderson. Why did you carry on working after you had been severely injured?
    Due Diligence.

  • Codge

    I hope Dennis sues the flames for letting him play when he probably had a concussion And I think they should get a private Dr to check out Henderson as I think Dennis was hit harder than him. What a retirement plan

  • theartfuldodger

    I met Wideman at the Golf Tourney before the season started. It was a crappy, wet and cold day, everyone was in less high spirits. He was not a likeable guy. Seemed like a grouch. I am sure “the thing” is wishing on him but I don’t feel like the guy is a fighter/competitor. Seemed kinda arrogant in my “limited sample size”.

  • Franko J

    Goodbye and good riddance to Wideman. His time has long expired in this team. There are better options available within the organization for the Flames to utilize.