It should go without saying that all consideration should be given to defenseman Mike Green for his decision to opt out of a return to NHL action, specifically as the Edmonton Oilers try to make a run towards the Stanley Cup. In any situation, family comes first.
Talking about his decision not to return, Green said in a statement:
“Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and after much consideration, I’ve decided for deeply personal family health reasons, not to participate in the return to play. This has been a hard decision knowing I’m going to miss the opportunity to compete in the playoffs with a Stanley Cup contender. I wish the best of luck to the guys and I appreciate the Edmonton Oilers support.”
Green came to the Oilers at the NHL Trade deadline in a deal from Detroit. GM Ken Holland had familiarity with the player, knew what he could do when on his game, and the cost to acquire the pending free agent was low. For those reasons, he was a smart bet during a final push to the playoffs and it’s unfortunate the Oilers won’t have him available should they need him starting August 1.
Still, how much of a deal is this? Does the loss of Green greatly affect the Oilers plans? Should the team be worried?
Short-Term Impact of Green Out
From what’s out there on the Oilogosphere, every defenseman in the Oilers system is back in training camp, sans Caleb Jones. Credit, where credit is due to Green, Jones’ absence, is potentially a bigger loss for the Oilers should he not attend because he might have seen as much, if not more playing time than Green.
Green was a veteran d-man who many insiders has pegged as an eight-or-nine on the depth chart. Head coach Dave Tippett might have given him the nod based on his veteran experience, but that certainly wasn’t a given coming off an injury. With Green no longer available, if Jones is out, that complicates matters.
The depth chart might look like the following:
- Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
- Kris Russell – Matt Benning
- Caleb Jones- Evan Bouchard
- William Lagesson
- Phillip Broberg
As Jason Gregor of TSN points out:
Green would have helped the Oilers, and given them more veteran depth, but Matt Benning has proven to be a very solid third pairing RD. For past four seasons when he is on the ice at 5×5 Oilers are +29. Next closest D, who played 1000+ TOI are Nurse/ Russell at -4.
The Oilers are not heavily playoff experiences but they are fairly deep. Still, one injury or illness that would see a player go down now means a potentially larger hole to fill.
Not-So Long-Term Impact of Green Out
Green’s decision finalizes the trade that saw him come to the Oilers on February 24. Detroit will now get a 2020 fourth-round pick from Edmonton instead of what could have been a 2021 third-rounder if the Oilers reached the conference finals and Green played in 50% of the games. If you’re looking for a silver lining…
Related: The Best NHL Defensemen Ever
The Long-Term Impact Of Green Out
When this season comes to a close, the Oilers (and Green) will have a tough decision to make. There was talk Edmonton was interested in offering a short-term extension to Green, but some of that might have been based on how he’d performed in the post-season. Now, the Oilers won’t know and any decision moving forward will have to based on strictly dollars and cents.
As mentioned, there is a history between Holland and Green so the Oilers’ GM is familiar with the player. Still, such a long layoff, his getting up there in age, and the uncertainty of the flat salary cap where every dollar counts hardly makes re-signing him a slam dunk decision.
That said, Green may have a hard time landing a lucrative deal and if his comments about wanting to play with a contender are true, perhaps next season sees him view this team as one that gives him the best odds to win. Likely looking at one-year deals to close out his career, what’s he got to lose?
Should an offer worth taking not be there, this could very well be the end of Green’s time in Edmonton. If so, it’s a shame he only got a couple of games in. He’s a fantastic hockey player and seems like an even better person who’s putting his family before his love to play the game.
Nothing but respect.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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