It wasn’t that long ago that the Pittsburgh Penguins were on the verge of having nine NHL healthy defensemen. That got winnowed to five when general manager Jim Rutherford awoke Monday morning, so he did a couple Jim Rutherford things – he made two trades.
In what was the less impactful of the trades the Penguins swung as the 3 p.m. trade deadline approached, they acquired defenseman Chris Wideman from Florida for minor-league forward J.S. Dea.
Wideman was targeted as a depth defenseman – the bigger deal was landing defenseman Erik Gudbranson from Vancouver for winger Tanner Pearson.
Wideman, 29, is 5 feet 10, 183 pounds. He’s a right-handed shot. In 181 NHL games dating to 2015-16, he has 16 goals, 45 points and is a plus-2. He is signed through the end of this season, when he is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent. He carries a cap hit of $1 million.
“He gives us depth on defense,” Rutherford said of Wideman. “He’s a smaller guy, a puck-moving guy. He has played some games in the league. He’s got some experience.”
The Penguins will be his fourth organization this season.
He began the season with Ottawa, which drafted him in the fourth round in 2009, after his freshman season at Miami (Ohio).
On Nov. 22, Edmonton acquired Wideman for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick. He later was traded to Florida, which last month put him on waivers. When he cleared, the Panthers retained him.
Wideman initially will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and it’s possible he won’t be needed at the NHL level by the Penguins this season, but it’s understandable that Rutherford wanted the cushion of having Wideman in the organization.
Over the past month, Rutherford traded Jamie Oleksiak back to Dallas foreseeing a glut at that position with Justin Schultz due back from a broken leg.
Then Olli Maatta sustained what is believed to be a shoulder injury that could keep him out most of the rest of the regular season. And Saturday both members of the Penguins’ top pairing, Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin, got hurt.
Juuso Riikola, who was scratched Saturday, could draw back in, and Rutherford said the team will recall Zach Trotman from WBS to play Tuesday at Columbus.