Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman wasn't tipping his hand for future roster plans last week as his team cleared out their lockers following their first round loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. But Tab Bamford makes perfect sense at ChicagoNow.com when suggesting who should be at the top of his free agent shopping list: defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Wideman, 29, was an All-Star this season for the Washington Capitals. He scored 11 goals and assisted on 35 others, finishing minus-8. He also dished out 113 hits and blocked 132 shots in 82 games. As Bamford noted, the reason his addition makes so much sense goes well beyond the numbers, however.
For starters, Wideman isn't afraid to get physical. Out of 203 players in the NHL credited with more than 100 hits in 2011-12, the Hawks only had three, led by Brent Seabrook's 198. Wideman would have been third on the team behind only Seabrook and Bryan Bickell.
Possibly the most important element is Wideman brings a heavy slapshot and good offensive game that can boost the power play. He had 20 power play points this season and averaged over three minutes per game with the man-advantage. He also averaged almost two minutes per game on the penalty kill.
While it's a small bonus, Wideman shoots righty. On the current roster, only Seabrook and Steve Montador do so among Chicago defensemen. Adding a righthanded-shooting blueliner would help balance each pairing so that one defenseman isn't regularly playing on his off hand.
Wideman earned 3.97 million in 2011-12 and would likely be looking for a bit of a raise. If the Blackhawks cut ties with each of their free agents -- Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers, Brendan Morrison, Brandon Bollig, Johnny Oduya, Sean O'Donnell and Sami Lepisto -- they will have 6.84 million to spend.
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