As far back as at least the week before the NHL All-Star Game, Dennis Wideman admitted to at least thinking about his impending free agency.
“I’ve thought about wondering where I’m going to be next year or what’s going to happen,” he said in late January. “But at the same time, that stuff happens when you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV. Not when you’re at the rink.”
With the Washington Capitals’ season over and the defenseman set to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, he said Monday he hasn’t thought much about it. A playoff run will do that.
“Not really. Not overly. I haven’t talked to my agent yet about what’s going to happen or what’s going on,” Wideman said. “Obviously there’s a lot going with UFA and CBA and all that stuff. I think I’ll probably have a meeting with him here in the next few days or weeks and see what’s going on.”
Wideman earned $4.5 million in the final season of a four-year, $15.75 million contract, and his cap hit was $3,937,500. After making the All-Star Game and piling up 11 goals and 35 assists, he figures to earn at least $4 million a year and likely much more, despite a shaky playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
The 29-year-old said he didn’t have a hard time keeping his mind off free agency while playing.
“It wasn’t bad. This was my first time going into it. But I think I tried to concentrate on the task at hand as much as possible and I think I did a good job of keeping that separate,” Wideman said. “I think it’s probably bother you a little bit more if you were talking with the team and things started to go well and then all of the sudden weren’t going well. So that’s probably when it would be a little but harder. But I didn’t have to deal with that.”
It’s perhaps hard to envision the Caps being willing to pony up $5 million if that’s Wideman’s asking price. Dale Hunter not coming back as coach probably hurts the cause, too, given that Wideman was one of his guys from his London Knights days.
But he certainly wasn’t closing the door on a return.
“Obviously, I like it here. I’ve had a lot of fun here in the last year,” Wideman said. “Obviously, I like where we’re going, the core group of guys is really, really good. So why not? I’d love to be back.”
Wideman said he had not talked to general manager George McPhee about his status.