ARLINGTON, Va. – As Monday’s NHL trade deadline approached, defenceman Dennis Wideman figured he might be headed out of town. He heard his name connected to plenty of teams—except the Washington Capitals, where he wound up.
Struggling through a much rougher regular season than a year ago, the Capitals acquired Wideman from the Florida Panthers on Monday for prospect Jake Hauswirth and a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.
“This was a bit of a surprise,” Wideman said.
The deal gives the Capitals more scoring punch on the blue line and adds needed depth as the team tries to overcome injuries to defencemen Mike Green and Tom Poti. Green has a head injury and general manager George McPhee said the All-Star could miss “at least a couple of weeks, maybe longer.”
“He’s had some headaches, so we just have to be careful,” McPhee said.
The Capitals also made another deal, announced later Monday, getting veteran centre Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils for centre David Steckel and a second-round draft pick in 2012.
Arnott had to waive his no-trade clause for the Devils to make the deal.
The Capitals are looking for help on the power play from both Arnott and Wideman.
“My first reaction was excitement. I’ve obviously played against Washington the last few years. … I know the type of game they play and the way they play, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Wideman said.
The 27-year-old Wideman has played for St. Louis, Boston and Florida over seven NHL seasons. He has 55 career goals, 143 assists and 325 penalty minutes. He had nine goals and 24 assists this season with the Panthers.
The 23-year-old Hauswirth is a centre who has spent this season in the ECHL. He had 10 goals and four assists in 37 games with the South Carolina Stingrays.
Wideman jumps from Florida, which is in last place in the Southeast Division, to Washington, which is in second place after winning the division title the previous three seasons.
He spoke Monday about being in the “process of rebuilding with Florida,” and recognizing that, “obviously, there’s going to be a lot more pressure there to perform” with the Capitals.
After playing against two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin, now Wideman gets to be on the same team as Washington’s captain, one major benefit of the trade.
“I won’t chase him around any more,” Wideman said. “I like that.”