In our continued look at some of the speculation or perhaps a more accurate description, “wish list” of many Edmonton Oilers fans, the third look into our “What’s Taking So Long” series examines the potential of a Mike Green to Edmonton trade. This isn’t a trade that’s been widely speculated and while there are rumors that Green might be a casualty of the Red Wings salary cap troubles, Green has not been specifically linked to the Oilers.
Still, there are some who have made a connection. As a result, it’s fair to ask, is Green a good fit in Edmonton?
Green: The Player
Mike Green was at one time a premier offensive defenseman in the NHL. In many respects, he still has shades of that player in him. For years, he was exactly the kind of player the Oilers were looking for.
Green may never get back to the 76-point season he had with the Capitals in 2009-10 but to suggest he could reach the 45-point mark under the right circumstances is not out of the question. Last season, he wound up with 14 goals and 36 points from a Red Wings blue line that gave him the most ice time of any defender on their roster. On a better team with more offensive help, 40 points might be the expectation, not the ceiling.
Green: The Value
Mike Green is entering the final season of his three-year, $18 million contract with the Red Wings. For the Oilers, he’d be a one-year rental and he’d represent a philosophy that the team was going for it while a player like Connor McDavid was still making his entry-level money. In short, Green would signal that the Oilers were all in.
In trading for him, the Oilers would have to convince the Red Wings that Edmonton could help Detroit shed salary and that they might be able to help the Red Wings speed up their impending rebuild. That might not be too tricky a thing to do, especially if the Red Wings feel they aren’t a playoff team.
In much the same way the Oilers would have looked at the signing of a player like Cody Franson, the organization would have to ask themselves, are they content heading into the upcoming season with Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse picking up the slack for a missing Andrej Sekera?
If the team wasn’t comfortable rushing either player (Nurse and Benning), Green gives the Oilers the time they need to provide both future top-four blueliners an easier path to heavy responsibility. Nurse and Benning would eventually be asked to carry a heavier load, just not next season.
Green: The Drawbacks
Green is aging and like any aging player, he’s prone to injury. Last season he missed 10 games and while the hope is he would stay healthy in 2017-18, he hasn’t played a full NHL season since 2007.
There is also the question of what the Oilers might have to give up. Is a package like Jujhar Khaira and a 2nd to Detroit too much from an Oilers perspective? Sure, Khaira could have been lost for nothing in the NHL Expansion Draft, but the Oilers do like him. He’s the kind of player who helps round out the organizational depth on the cheap when inexpensive talent will be needed. Maybe Edmonton considers that too high a price for Green (a one-year rental) who may not play up high on the depth chart when Sekera returns.
Maybe, the Red Wings don’t think that’s enough.
Green: The Verdict
People who suggested I was out to lunch for suggesting the Oilers consider Cody Franson will call me crazy for suggesting Mike Green. Green is much more expensive, the Oilers still have to figure out what’s going on with Leon Draisaitl and Green is not a long-term solution.
But, that may be why you look at him.
Dating back to his time in Washington, Green has proven offensive upside and that’s where his current salary comes from. He’s scored 31 goals before and he’s good for 10 -15 more each season. Meanwhile, the Red Wings (while it’s possible they could make cap room by shuffling players) may look to offload salary. Green solves their problems in one single move and lets Detroit land a player like college free agent Will Butcher.
From an Oilers perspective, if nothing else, Green becomes a trade piece later in the season. Should Sekera return and is not hampered by his injury (that’s a big if), and if Benning and Nurse play up to their potential, Green is expendable and fetches a draft pick at the deadline. This is especially true if Oilers’ depth defenders like Eric Gryba and Yohann Auvitu pan out as hoped.
Landing Green is probably a long shot at best. But, if you’re one of the many fans who want the Oilers to go for it this season, Green is the type of trade target the team should be looking at. The optics are ripe for a maneuver of this kind and there’s no long-term risk involved.
That said, a move of this kind takes some guts and it means the Oilers should target a right-winger too. That’s what could be taking so long.