As the Washington Capitals announced the arrival of their new head coach Adam Oates on Wednesday afternoon, they also announced the departure of their lone All-Star from last season.
The Caps traded defenseman Dennis Wideman's negotiating rights to the Calgary Flames in exchange for free-agent-to-be defenseman Jordan Henry and a 2013 fifth-round draft pick. The Flames then signed Wideman to a five-year, $26.25 million contract.
Wideman, who arrived from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline in February 2010, scored 46 points (11 goals, 35 assists) in 82 games last season and earmed his first-career All-Star nomination in the process. The 29-year-old also led Washington in ice time, averaging 23:54 per game.
Yet, Wideman experienced a sharp decline in his overall play after returning from the All-Star Game in late January, only scoring twice after January 31 and finishing the postseason at a minus-7, tied for second-worst of all players who participated in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
According to General Manager George McPhee, Calgary inquired about Wideman's services before the NHL Draft last Friday, but the deal was not completed until Wednesday. McPhee also mentioned that Wideman did not fit into the Caps' plans salary-wise and personnel-wise.
“Based on what we had to do in putting all the payroll models together, it would have been hard to keep him,” McPhee said. “He plays right 'D' and we have two other right defensemen in [Mike] Green and [John] Carlson that need new deals and need to play a lot.”
McPhee said that he wanted Dmitry Orlov to receive more playing time (he did not appear in any of Washington's 14 playoff games) and that, as of now, the Caps' defensive corps is in "pretty good shape." That group includes Carlson, Green, Orlov, Karl Alzner, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and prospect Cameron Schilling.
The Flames needed to get rid of a contract to acquire Wideman, so Henry comes to the Caps as an unrestricted free agent (free agency begins this Sunday, July 1). If a deal can be reached, the 26-year-old defenseman could see time in AHL Hershey.