Time to drop Wideman and Lidstrom?

DennisWideman_BostonBruins

Bruins D Dennis Wideman is a gifted offensive player, but for fantasy purposes there's little risk in dropping him.

In his first 13 games, Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom scored only three points (one goal, two assists).

In his next four games, Lidstrom tallied three assists and raised his +/- by +3. His season totals after 17 games, entering tonight’s 7 pm EST tilt vs. Anaheim, are one goal, five assists, +10, two PIMs, two PPPs, and 36 shots on goal.

Here’s the question: If these numbers belonged to any other D, would you drop him?

The realistic answer is yes.

However, this is Lidstrom we’re talking about. Despite his season-long drought, he still is the No. 39-ranked blueliner in the Yahoo! game and No. 25 in ESPN formats. That makes him a No. 3 or No. 4 D, even in deep leagues.

When you throw in his recent hot streak; his superb numbers last year (16 goals, 43 assists, +31, 33 PPPs, 180 shots); and the Red Wings’ winning ways, it is easy to reach the following verdict: Don’t even think about dropping Lidstrom.

Even in this slump, he is statistically own-able. Once he gets going, you’ll regret the move. And if you think no one is dropping Lidstrom, you’re wrong: the man is down to 97 percent ownership in Yahoo! (still at 100 percent in ESPN though).

Remember: last season, there were plenty of points to go around on the Detroit blue line among Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall (six goals, 45 assists) and Brian Rafalski (10 goals, 49 assists). Lidstrom may take a step back, but the scoring and minutes of Kronwall and Rafalski do not necessarily cannibalize his value.

Bruins D Dennis Wideman is another story. His ownership is down to 71 percent in Yahoo! (though still, incredibly, at 100 percent in those loyal ESPN formats).

Why have Yahoo! owners bailed on Wideman? Largely because of his four points (one goal, three assists) in 15 games, coupled with a -1, 30 shots on goal, and only one PPP.

Based on these numbers, Wideman is nowhere near the top 50 defensemen.Yes, he netted two assists vs. Pittsburgh on Nov. 10, but that effort broke a 10-game scoreless streak. And on Nov. 12 vs. Florida, Wideman promptly returned to his scoreless ways. We’ll see what he does tonight at 7:30 pm EST in Pittsburgh.

Regardless, the question is: Can Wideman rebound and match his superb stats from last year (13 goals, 37 assists, +32, 25 PPP, 169 shots)? Also, while it’s mainstream thinking to view last season as Wideman’s breakout, it is easy to forget that he scored 13 goals and launched 171 shots in 2007-08.

The guy is a talented offensive player. But does he deserve the same fantasy leniency as Lidstrom?

Short answer? No. For two reasons:

(1) Wideman does not have the name brand Lidstrom does. If you drop Wideman, and he recovers, there is a solid chance you can snag him from the free agency pool before another owner does. It is highly unlikely another owner will use his waiver priority on Wideman. By contrast, if you drop Lidstrom, you will not get him back. Count on it. Another owner, down on his luck, will use a waiver on him or sweep him up the instant he becomes a free agent.

(2) Last year, Wideman did not have to compete with Bruins D Derek Morris for ice time — specifically PP time. Whereas the Red Wings still boast the same top three D as they did in 2008-09, the Bruins replaced D Aaron Ward with Morris. Though Wideman is still staking a solid 21:00 per game, he trails both Morris and Chara in average ice time and PP time. By contrast, in 2008-09, there were single games in which Wideman skated more minutes than Chara. At worst, he ranked second in D minutes.

Those days are over. And until further notice, so is Wideman’s run as a viable fantasy blueliner.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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