Jim Neveau, NHL Correspondent
The Washington Capitals may be on the market for a second line center, but they also seem to be interested in upgrading their blue line as well. After picking up Marco Sturm on Saturday, the Caps went blue line again on Monday as they acquired Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers. In exchange, they sent the Cats prospect Jake Hauswirth and a third round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.
Wideman is definitely the type of guy who fits right into the Caps’ mentality. He is an offensive defenseman who isn’t exactly the most responsible defender imaginable, but with Mike Green taking a couple of shots to the head this month (both with a puck and from Derek Stepan), the need for a guy who can create offense from the back-end became something that GM George McPhee had to address. Wideman currently has nine goals and 24 assists, and 19 of those points have come on the power play.
The main issue for the Panthers with Wideman is the amount of money he is making. His cap hit is around $3.9 million, but his real salary for next season, the last one remaining on his contract, will see him make $4.5 million. That is simply too much for a team that is looking to rebuild under GM Dale Tallon, but the Caps had some cap flexibility next season and so they took advantage of Florida’s willingness to dump salary.
In terms of Florida’s return for Dennis, they didn’t do terribly for what could definitely be considered a financial move. Hauswirth is currently in the ECHL, and has 10 goals in 37 games this season for the South Carolina Stingrays. When you look at his career numbers, he has always been a solid offensive player, but he isn’t going to light the world on fire with his play. This is a guy who probably did not fit into Washington’s long term plans, but he could be a nice solid addition to the Panthers’ talent stable.
The Panthers also picked up a third round pick, which will give Tallon yet another opportunity to pick up a young guy for the future. He has not wasted any time in reshaping this Panthers’ roster in his time with the team, and even though there are bigger names like Stephen Weiss that he could potentially move, he is not hitting the panic button and unloading everyone.
With how much Washington’s man advantage has struggled this season, adding a guy like Dennis to the fold should certainly help things there. His minus-26 definitely doesn’t instill confidence in those folks who think Washington needs to get more responsible on the blue line, but the reality is that he fills a need and at a very low price. When you consider that, and also the fact that he has blocked over 100 shots this season, the Capitals got a very nice deal to bring Wideman aboard.
Now, all eyes will be on McPhee to see whether or not he adds the second line center that this team very desperately needs. Will Jason Arnott be a Capital by day’s end? Stay tuned to The Hockey Writers all day for continuing deadline coverage to find out.