Capitals Player Report Card: Dennis Wideman

Dennis Wideman

Stats:  GP 14, Goals 1, Assists 6, Points 7, +/- 7, PIM 6
2010-11 Contract:  $3,937,500 (Signed for one more year)

Player Card

Scoring Chance% Ranking: 4/29
Defensemen: 1/10
Balanced Corsi Ranking Among Defensemen:  5/10

At the beginning of the season, it looked like the Caps didn’t have much need for a puck-moving defenseman like Wideman. Considering the team was coming off a year where they had the best powerplay unit in the league, had one of the best powerplay quarterbacks in the NHL in Mike Green and an up-and-coming all-around defenseman in John Carlson already on the team. That and much of the focus this year was put on team defense and penalty killing, so if you would have told me that George McPhee was going to trade for Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline, I would have told you that you were insane. Over the course of the year, the powerplay lost a lot of steam, Green was always hurt and so was Tom Poti, meaning that Carlson was the only healthy blue-liner who could move the puck. Thus, McPhee was able to snag Wideman from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Jake Hauswirth and 3rd round pick. I said that trade was a steal at the deadline and I stand by that notion because Wideman has helped in a lot of ways and more than just the powerplay during his short time in Washington.

Wideman was someone who surpassed my expectations when he arrived because I thought we would use him similar to how Boston did as an offensive defenseman but he did it all for Washington. He was playing 20+ minutes a night and had responsibilities on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Having him here really took the burden off younger players like Carlson and Alzner. In only 16 games as a Capital, he blocked 26 shots, delivered 20 hits and contributed seven points from the blue line. For a defenseman, that’s pretty solid. An interesting thing is that his player card says he faced weaker competition this year than he did with Boston but I’m assuming it’s factoring in his stats from Florida, which would make sense.

Wideman was maintaining a good corsi rating on an awful Panthers team, and continued to do as such for the Caps and it appeared he gave the team just what they needed with Green’s return and the playoffs drawing closer. Then it was on that fateful game against the Carolina Hurricanes where a collision with Tuommo Ruutu resulted in Wideman suffering from a gruesome leg injury which turned out to be hematoma. He was obviously out indefinitely and missed all of the playoffs as a result. The powerplay was 11-48 ever since he (and Jason Arnott) were acquired so I have to think that the Tampa series would have gone a little differently if he was healthy.

Wideman was prone to the occasional blunder and when they happened, the puck ended up being in our net. Most of htem were due to him losing an edge in the neutral zone or overskating a puck which gift-wrapped chances for other teams but Boston (and Florida) fans had warned us that those would come with Wideman’s game. Overall, I was happy with the acquisition and pleased with how his performance in a Caps sweater so I’m going to give him a solid B for this season. I would have liked for him to have some more points but the powerplay looked noticeably better after his arrival when it came to passing the puck and generating chances. You can tell that by his sturdy scoring chance percentage of 56.85%. I am happy that we have him under contract for another season BUT McPhee adding him to the payroll certainly doesn’t make Tom Poti’s contract extension look any better. Not that $2.5 mil for him is terrible but I would like to have Wideman and Scott Hannan back on the team next year instead of just one of them if you know what I’m saying.

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