The Montreal Canadiens have agreed to terms with veteran defenseman Chris Wideman on a two-year contract extension that will keep him in town through the 2023-24 season. Eric Engels of Sportsnet reports that the deal will pay Wideman $750K in 2022-23 and $775K in 2023-24.
For a player like Wideman, a two-year deal must seem like a long-term contract. The 32-year-old has played under one-year contracts for most of his career, including this season when he earned the minimum of $750K at the NHL level. Even that was a step up from his last few years playing in the AHL and KHL, where it appeared for a short time like Wideman’s NHL career was over.
Not so, after coming back with 27 points in 64 games for the Canadiens in 2021-22 and showing that he still has a place on an NHL roster. While he’ll never be the best option in his own end or against top opponents, Wideman is still a strong puck-mover that can take advantage of easier matchups and contribute to the powerplay. For a Montreal team that is heading into a rebuild, a two-year term gives them a reliable specialist to plug into the lineup on a regular basis, and one that desperately wanted to continue with the organization that gave him a second chance at the NHL.
The interesting part of a deal like this is what it might mean for some of the other veteran defensemen on Montreal’s roster. While Wideman isn’t exactly going to replace Jeff Petry, bringing him back does suggest that there might be other changes coming. With younger options like Jordan Harris, Alexander Romanov, Justin Barron, Kaiden Guhle, and Mattias Norlinder all expected to challenge for playing time, it’s hard to know how many spots will even be open.