And so we have, at the price of a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2020, the perfect marriage of a player, an opportunity, and a team with a hole to fill.
Do you, Chris Wideman, take this team to have and to hold? And will you work a power play and get shots through to the net?
“Well, I didn’t get to the NHL by being a shutdown defender, if that’s what you’re asking,” said Wideman over the phone. “I would say there is definitely an offensive element to my game, but not at the expense of playing defence. Just trying to move the puck up ice, and there’s a ton of skill up there in the Oilers lineup.”
Wideman was one of the Senators players in that ill-fated Arizona Uber van, but long before that he’d lost the faith of Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher. He averaged just 13:33 of ice time per game this season. The Senators are rebuilding and he wasn’t part of the plan.
The 28-year-old couldn’t get to the airport fast enough on Thursday, grabbing an evening flight even though the offer was there to fly out and join the Oilers in California the next morning.
Does he welcome a fresh start?
“For sure,” the St. Louis native said. “No hard feeling towards anybody or anything that’s happened in Ottawa. It’s a mutual parting of ways. In the direction they’re going in, this is what they felt was best for them.”
Wideman is a right-shot defenceman who has seasons of 51 and 61 points in the AHL. Those numbers have never translated to the NHL, but he was also on a team that had Erik Karlsson eating up a ton of powerplay time on the blue-line, and this season young Thomas Chabot, who has 25 points in 22 games as a sophomore.
In Edmonton, the defence was best described by GM Peter Chiarelli recently, when he said in a radio interview, “Right now, our six starting D, none of them are exceptional passers. In order for us to have a smooth flow to the game all of them have to be in kind of the B+ range as far as the passing goes, in their own skill-set… When you’re not there, things can break down in a hurry.”
On the right side of Edmonton’s blue-line lies a paucity of offence and puck-moving skill. Adam Larsson stays at home while Matthew Benning, who stands to lose some ice time upon Wideman’s insertion into the lineup, has struggled. Those are the only right shots currently on the roster, with Ethan Bear (in the AHL) and Evan Bouchard (OHL London) on the way but not yet ready.
Wideman missed most of last season with a hamstring tear. It pulled right off the bone, and he had to prove this season that it was going to be OK, which he has done.
“Fully recovered,” he said. “Now, I’m just ready for the opportunity and to take advantage of it.”
He’s been a plus player in every pro season until posting a minus-9 in Ottawa this season. This is his first trade — the Senators drafted him in 2009 — and he’s ready for a new challenge.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity of playing in Edmonton, and getting a chance to play with some of the guys that are in that lineup. And for a coach who has won a Stanley Cup and been successful in this league for a ton of years. It’s a great opportunity for me personally.”