Wednesday afternoon the Calgary Flames signed defenseman Dennis Wideman to a five-year, $26.25 million contract after acquiring him from the Washington Capitals. Flames general manager Jay Feaster sent restricted defenseman Jordan Henry to D.C. along with a fifth round draft pick in return for Wideman's rights. He's set to make an average salary of $5.25 million per season.
After Capitals general manager George McPhee sent goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade-and-sign deal, he told Wideman and his agent the team would probably be moving on without him, as well.
I didn't want to mislead a player. When it got right down to it, I didn't think we were going to be able to sign him, McPhee said.
The July 1 free agent signing frenzy is quickly approaching, and Wideman was considered by many to be the third best defenseman on the market behind Ryan Suter and Jason Garrison. Even after a season that was just shy of his career best, Wideman was still criticized by pundits and Capitals fans alike for his often weak play in the defensive zone, something Calgary can't afford while playing in a division featuring players like Taylor Hall, Dany Heatley and the Sedin twins.
The Flames will be Wideman's fifth NHL team in a career that began in St. Louis in 2005-2006. Wideman, who specializes as an offensive defenseman, was able to help fill in for the Capitals when teammate Mike Green went down with an injury.
The good news is that Wideman will almost surely help the Flames' sometimes anemic power play, which ranked just at the league average last season. He logged the most power play time out of any Capitals' d-man and led the team with 35 assists.
Compared to players with similar stats, Wideman is overpaid, but considering the Flames' need on the back end and desire to lock him up before potentially losing him on July 1, the deal is no big surprise. The salary cap is also expected to rise to around $70 million this season.
The Flames also signed former New York Islander Blake Comeau to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.