It's no secret that the Flames would love to rid themselves of some of their dead weight contracts this offseason. The biggest of these is Dennis Wideman and his appallingly large $5.25M contract which expires at the end of the upcoming season.
While it isn't absolutely terrible to sweat out one more season of Wideman's contract, it's also not an enviable position as the Flames are looking to put money towards a #1 goalie while also resigning some key players. If Wideman were to be dealt, the Flames could free up the roster spot and the cap space to resign Jakub Nakladal who turned into a solid right handed defenseman after being called up last season.
The Flames may be able to make a trade if teams are willing to look past Wideman's issues this past season and back to two years ago where Wideman posted 56 points in the regular season. Wideman finished this past season with 19 points in 51 games with higher expectations placed on his shoulders. If his 19 points is adjusted to a 82 game season, he would've finished with 31 points which is about 8 points under his career average. In fact, during Wideman's time in Calgary he's averaged just over .5 points per game which is pretty good for a defenceman.
The downside however to Wideman is that his defensive game has been abysmal of late and would definitely need to take an offensive-defenceman role on his new team. He also holds a no movement clause meaning he'd have to sign off on a deal to any other team. Finally, his massive contract means the Flames will most likely need to take back a bad contract or sweeten the deal with a good draft pick or both potentially.
Here's four teams that could the Flames might be able to trade Dennis Wideman to this offseason:
The Bruins had shown interest in Wideman prior to his suspension and subsequent injury but that interest seems to have died off. However the Bruins have over $25M in cap space coming off the books this offseason including having six pending free agent defencemen coming off the books. Loui Eriksson and Torey Krug are the biggest pending free agents and Krug will most likely be resigned. The Bruins also have some young defencemen getting close to making the jump to NHL so a trade for an older Wideman may not make much sense.
The Bruins will most likely be capstrapped as usual next season despite the money being freed up meaning that the Flames would either need to take a bad contract back which the Bruins don't really have besides Zdeno Chara or the Flames would have to retain a good chunk of salary. It doesn't seem like there's too much of a possibility for a trade to happen.
The Oilers have been lacking a defensive core for a number of years now. Their strong forward core as been undermined by the Oilers' complete inability to bring in or draft defenceman. That could be changing as Darnell Nurse emerged last season with the Oilers and they have Andrej Sekera who they signed in free agency but aside from them, there isn't much else.
With Nikita Nikitin's large contract coming off the books this season, the Oilers could be looking to plug his spot in the lineup with Wideman who by no means isn't a good defensive player but could bolster Edmontion's powerplay as a bottom end defenceman. Wideman would also bring a veteran presence to the Oilers who have sorely lacked over the past few years with their young core. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli worked with Wideman during his time in Boston which could link him to the Oilers.
If a deal were to happen the Oilers would likely look to send a higher paying contract back to Calgary while also acquiring a draft pick or a prospect. There's two contracts that come to mind, Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov. The Oilers have been shopping Nail Yakupov recently, and while it could be a stretch to acquire Yakupov, the Flames may be able to make a deal happen if they include their 2nd round pick (35th overall). However, it's unlikely that the Oilers would move a 22 year old former first overall pick to their provincial rival, but it's fun to dream. Korpikoski is more likely as he likely doesn't fit into the Oilers' long term plans. Both are paid $2.5M this season and are free agents at this year's end.
The Devils will have cap space this upcoming offseason with the big contracts of Patrik Elais and Tuomo Ruutu coming off the books. The Devils missed the postseason this season due to a lack of scoring on their team. Some of this can be attributed to Mike Cammalleri's season ending injury halfway through the season, but they still only averaged 2.25 goals for per game. Their best defensive player in terms of scoring was Damon Severson who had 1 goal and 20 assists this year.
However on defense the Devils were 9th in the league for goals against only 2.54 goals against per game. With their cap space this offseason, the Devils may be looking to add an offensive addition to their team particularly a player that can score on defense that can set up a powerplay. Wideman may fit the bill as an experiment for this season if the Devils are willing to wager some defensive success in order to potentially achieve more offensive success. The Devils have 25(!!!) players that have expiring contracts so any cap space may evaporate before a deal is made.
Like New Jersey, the Canucks struggled in scoring this season, only scoring more goals than the aforementioned Devils. Where the Canucks season differed was that they were 24th in GAA to boot so not exactly a good combination. They finished with the worst goal differential in the entire NHL at seasons end and lacked significant defensive direction for most of the season.
Particularly the offense produced by Canucks defensemen was horrid as the highest scoring was Ben Hutton with 25 points and Matt Bartkowski had the highest goal total with 6. The issue with dealing with Canucks is that they have little cap space and that they may not be looking to sacrifice their limited defensive success in order to achieve a little bit more offensive success from their backend.
For the Flames to make a deal, they'd likely have to take an equally bad contract back from Vancouver, and that most likely would be that of Alex Burrows. It wouldn't be smart for the Flames to take on a forward who is past their prime to take a roster spot from a younger developing player.
The difficult parts of making a trade to any of these teams (even if a good deal is arranged) is that Wideman will have to sign off on the trade. The commonality among these four teams is that all four didn't make the playoffs and 3/4 don't really seem in a great position to next season with the exception of Boston. At this point I'd take a 7th round pick to open up his salary space, but the Flames are in a tight spot and aren't in a position to wager whatsoever with other teams based on how Wideman's 2015-16 season went. It'll be difficult to swing a deal but hopefully Brad Treliving has an ace up his sleeve.