While he may no longer be the 70-point player he once was, Mike Green is still an effective NHL defenceman. Yes he can occasionally be a bit of a train wreck in his own end of the rink, something which has plagued him throughout much of his ten-year career, but few can run a power play as effectively as the two-time Norris Trophy nominee.
Green Will Get His Money Come July 1
Despite coming off yet another productive campaign, the Caps seemingly had little interest in re-signing the 2004 first round pick. With the quartet of Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik all signed to multi-year deals, bringing Green back into the fold never appeared to be a realistic option. After watching his role diminish to that of a third pairing defenceman under head coach Barry Trotz, chances are the soon-to-be 30-year old is looking forward to a change of scenery for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
Of all the teams interested in adding a puck-moving/power play quarterback to their blueline, the Edmonton Oilers could very well be at the top of that list. After playing alongside the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin, you would think Green would feel right at home on a team with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid. From an offensive standpoint, it would seem to be a nice fit but there is far more for Peter Chiarelli to consider before making such move.
Coming off a three-year deal in which he earned just over $6 million a season and the unrestricted free agent class being as thin as it is, Green will be looking to hit a home run on the open market. While he may have his limitations as a player, teams interested in acquiring his services had better be ready to open up their wallets. There was a grand total of 19 defencemen who scored at least 45-points in 2014-15 and the Calgary native was one them.
What To Do With Justin Schultz?
Considering his teammate sat fifth on that list with 55 points, you would have to think that total would be much higher on team that would give him top four minutes on a nightly basis and make him option No.1 on the man advantage. Problem with that, Green has shown to be more effective with far less responsibility on his plate. If asking the former 30-goal man to play a top-four role on a good team is a stretch, can you imagine watching him try to do it in Edmonton?
On a blueline that currently consists of Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba, Oscar Klefbom, Nikita Nikitin, Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart and Justin Schultz, using Green as a third pairing guy is not an option. In fact, the idea of having a blueline with Schultz and the two-time First Team All-Star both seeing regular duty, is a frightening thought. Unlike previous seasons, the Oilers must focus on using players in roles they are best suited for or their recent struggles will continue.
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In a perfect world, the Oilers would love nothing more than to see Schultz morph into a carbon copy of what Green was during his peak years but the 2008 second round pick has shown no signs of becoming that player. While Edmonton did qualify the soon-to-be 25-year old rearguard on Monday afternoon, the organization has to decide whether or not they still believe him to be capable of being that guy. If not, management needs to address the situation sooner, rather than later.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.