Calgary Flames Sign Free Agents Dennis Wideman, Jiri Hudler
By Ryan Holmer (@RyanHolmerNHL)
June 27th began a busy offseason for the Calgary Flames, as they signed defenseman Dennis Wideman to a five-year contract. Wideman had a good season last year, putting up 46 points in 82 games for a strong Washington team.
The Flames wanted to get a head start on signing Wideman, so they traded Jordan Henry and a fifth round pick in order to be able to negotiate with him. During the draft, they attempted to sign him, but could not. A short time after the draft, Jarome Iginla called Wideman, and convinced him to jump on board.
According to Jay Feaster, Wideman is thrilled to be joining Calgary. He is able to play the uptempo style of play that Bob Hartley wishes to instill. He is also glad to get the contract out of the way, as his wedding is planned for July 6th.
“I’m glad to get [the contract] off the table , and I have the wedding … finish up the last preparations for that and get prepared,” he told the FAN 960.
The Calgary Flames now have a solid defensive core in Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Chris Butler, Jay Bouwmeester and Cory Sarich. There is likely to be a lot of competition for minutes on the Flames blue line, which is a problem that is welcomed, and hasn’t been an issue for many years. Healthy competition is never a bad thing.
In addition to Dennis Wideman, the Flames recently signed Czech centre Jiri Hudler to a four-year contract. Hudler, 28, is coming off one of his best seasons in the NHL. He finished the season with a career high 25 goals and 50 points. Although Hudler is listed as a centre, he only took seven draws last season, winning two of them. He fits into the Flames’ top six, and will get plenty of opportunities to play top offensive minutes, potentially on a line with fellow Czech Cervenka.
While Feaster has been busy on the free agent front, he has also re-signed several key pieces. Lee Stempniak, Blair Jones, and Cory Sarich all recently signed two-year contract extensions, with Blake Comeau opting for a one-year deal.
I asked JP Barry, Mikael Backlund’s agent, for a contract update, and he responded: “We haven’t made progress yet on a new contract.” The Flames have made it clear that Backlund is on the block, but are by no means in a rush to trade him. I expect him to be signed within the next week or two. Backlund is a very skilled, potential top six forward that has not yet had his breakout season. It did not help that for the past couple of seasons, Backlund has been playing for defensive coaches. Bob Hartley is an offensive-minded, uptempo coach who will likely only benefit Backlund’s development.
Leaving Calgary are Olli Jokinen and David Moss.
Moss, a Flames home-grown prospect who had spent his entire career thus far playing for the Flames, signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. He never had the success he wanted in Calgary, and often struggled with injuries.
Olli Jokinen has had a back and forth career with Calgary. Last season, however, was by far his best in terms of development. Known for his offensive game, Jokinen developed into a solid two-way forward this past season. Jokinen signed a two-year deal in Winnipeg, and will get top six minutes throughout the year.
Scott Hannan, Akim Aliu, and Tom Kostopoulos remain the last three players to be signed. Aliu is the most likely to be resigned, as he has the grit, size, and toughness that Feaster is looking for.
It’s still early in the offseason, and there are many things that the Flames will have to do to be considered a contender.