CALGARY, AB -- When the Calgary Flames pro scouting staff were working on their strategy and finalizing their list of free agents they want to target on July 1st, they also created a list of attributes they were searching for in players.
A right-handed blueliner. A power play specialist. An offensively-gifted defenceman with a booming shot.
All three of those descriptions can be linked to one individual.
"We had Dennis Wideman right up there at the top of the list," General Manager Jay Feaster said.
Knowing he was heading to free agency on Sunday, the Flames wanted to get a jump on signing the Kitchener, ON native to avoid the potential bidding war. They began talking to the Washington Capitals last week, asking if they could speak with Wideman and try to work out a deal.
George McPhee, general manager of the Caps, agreed to let the Flames chat with the rearguard, adding that he wanted the Flames fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. However, when the Flames fifth round selection rolled around on Saturday, a deal had yet to be completed.
Feaster let me McPhee know they were still interested in getting a contract worked out with Wideman and the Caps agreed to take a 2013 fifth round pick from the Flames. Calgary continued to negotiate with the 29 year-old and on Wednesday morning, they inked Wideman to a five-year deal.
Feaster is very happy they were able to get a contract signed before Sunday.
"There are only so many guys that are out there in that free agent pool and come July 1, everybody is going to be swimming in that same pool. And only one team is going to emerge with each one of those guys. I think it does get a little bit crazier as it goes along.
"That's why we said if we can find a way to beat that, if we can get ahead of that, let's do it."
Knowing Wideman could have been contemplating seeing what he could get on the open market, the Flames had captain Jarome Iginla give him a call to let him know what he could expect if he decided to sign with the organization.
"Jarome sold him on why this is a great place, a great ownership and a great fanbase. The building's full every night and hockey matters."
The Flames also sent Jordan Henry, who will become a UFA on Sunday, to Washington in the deal as they needed to shed a contract in order to fit under the 50-contract restriction.