With hours remaining on trade deadline Monday, the Caps dealt prospect Jake Hauswirth and a third round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Dennis Wideman.
In Wideman the Capitals receive a 27-year old offensive defenseman who can man the point on the power play. He has nine goals and 24 assists on the season and eight of his tallies came with the man advantage. He has more points than all Capitals defenseman and he already leads the team in power play goals.
“I hope that I fit right in with what they’re trying to do there,” he said in a conference call on Monday. “I think my game and what I’ve tried to bring to other teams that I played on is good break out passes, a good first pass, and I jump into the rush whenever I can.”
Wideman was happy the Caps fit the mold he was looking for as well. “Those [up-tempo teams] are the teams that control the play a lot. They have the puck a lot and that’s the type of hockey that I enjoy playing,” he said.
This trade indicates the Capitals could move Alex Ovechkin to the left sideboard or to the front of the net in an effort to revitalize a dormant power play. If Washington can jumpstart the PP it would go a long way towards opening things up in even strength play.
“I’m just going to try to get in there and help out wherever I can, carry the puck up the ice and then obviously getting the puck as soon as I can to guys like Backstrom and Ovechkin,” he said.
As a Panther the gameplan on the PK was “don’t let Ovechkin get the puck,” according to Wideman. “Now I’m on the other side, now [I’m] going to be trying to get him the puck,” he laughed. “I think the power play has been struggling a little bit of late [but] it won’t last long with the amount of guys they have out there … They got a lot of depth there and we’ll be fine on the power play.”
Wideman has one more year left on his deal, meaning he is more than just a rental player. He is owed $867,944 for the rest of the year according to Capgeek and will command $4.5 million next season with a cap hit of $3.93 million.
The seventh year blueliner is a minus-26, but that can be partially attributed to playing for a mediocre team. However, the Panthers as a whole are only -12 in goal differential on the year so it’s clear Wideman is a bit of a risk taker. He was a plus-26 in 256 games with the Bruins.
One interesting note, Wideman and fellow freshly-minted Capital Marco Sturm both played for the 2008-09 Boston Bruins squad which racked up 116 points and the first seed in the Eastern Conference.
Now that George McPhee has addressed the special teams issue, the focus will be on whether or not the Caps acquire a center. However, Washington is now over the cap and would probably need to end Tom Poti’s season or trade away a contract like Alex Semin’s to get such a player.
Overall, the Capitals snagged a solid defensive pickup in exchange for very little. There is concern that this deal could result in a Joe Corvo-like backfire, but this time around the team isn’t sporting the NHL’s best power play. They needed an upgrade there and got one for little cost.
More to come.