But the Capitals wish he had been with them in the playoffs last spring when they were swept in the second round by the Lightning.
“I think we missed him quite a bit. I think the whole reason why we got him was to add another threat. You see what he’s doing this year, that’s what he could’ve done for us last year,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think especially that second series we could have used him a lot. It maybe would have changed the way that things ended for us. It was a big loss. He’s a big-time player, and that’s why we got him.”
Wideman makes mistakes. No one will argue he’s the most adept defender in his zone, though he usually compensates for it with offensive pop.
“It puts a lot more on him, and he’s been handling it real well,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “He’s had a good season as far as play-wise and with Greener out, a lot of the onus is put on him. I know he likes to deflect that kind of stuff, but he’s handled it real well and is playing good hockey.”
Wideman does like to deflect, though in the final year of his contract he concedes he has thought about the future. An All-Star appearance surely increases the value of a big-minute defenseman already making $4.5 million.
But with the collective bargaining agreement expiring in September, Wideman — who has bounced around and is on his fourth NHL team - knows there is more uncertainty than usual.
“It’s not as simple as whether Washington wants me here. It has to do with can they fit [me] under the cap with the contracts that we have on the books. It’s complicated. It’s not like it used to be with no cap where the teams with money were just like, ‘We like him. We’re going to sign him,’ ” Wideman said. “So yeah, I’ve thought about wondering where I’m going to be next year or what’s going to happen. 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.”
Of course it’s much better for Wideman to be sitting at home than in a hospital, and much better that he can play rather than wonder when he’ll be back on the ice. But his future isn’t the first thing on his mind.
“I’m not really thinking about it as much right now in the heart of the season,” Wideman said. “You’re just trying to win, trying to get us back to where we should be as a team.”
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