The Ottawa Senators announced the signing of unrestricted free agent defenseman Chris Wideman. It is a two-way contract for one year that will pay him $600,000 in the NHL or $400,000 in the AHL. Wideman would have to clear waivers before being sent to the team’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. It is unlikely he would clear waivers without being claimed by another team, meaning he is likely to be on an NHL roster next season.
Wideman has taken a lengthy route to the NHL, having played a full four years at Miami University of Ohio where he scored 12 goals and 95 points in 163 games. He then spent three years with the Binghamton Senators, scoring 30 goals and 130 points in 208 games. Wideman was an AHL all-star last season and led all defensemen in scoring with 19 goals and 61 points. He won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHLs best defenseman.
Having never played a single game in the NHL, Wideman is a classic example of a highly skilled, smooth skating, puck moving defenseman that gets overlooked due to his size. It will be interesting to see how well his skills translate to the NHL game and whether he can defend down low in his own zone and in front of his net.
Impact on Roster
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The Senators traded Eric Gryba to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in an effort to make space for Jared Cowen in the top-six. With Wideman, Ottawa is back to having eight NHL defensemen on their roster going into next season. Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch are the expected top-four on defense. Given Cowen’s salary and management’s desire to see him play, he will start the year on the third pairing. That leaves Mark Borowiecki and Wideman sharing time in the sixth spot.
It is not known what will happen with Chris Phillips. He played a great deal under head coach Paul MacLean early in the year. Once Dave Cameron took over the bench, Phillips was relegated to the press box. He may choose to retire, but more likely he will collect $2.5 million as the team’s eighth defenseman next season.