Let me start by saying that I’m not taking a stance on what if Mike Green were on the Detroit Red Wings, opposed to a defenseman like P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, or Kris Letang, because they shouldn’t be on the block anytime soon, as Green was and possibly still is.
Nor am I speaking in terms of Detroit trading for Green either. I’m saying what if Detroit had drafted Green itself? Of course any player could be drafted anywhere by any team, so why would the Wings have drafted Green over the other 290 players selected in the 2004 draft. Because of Robert Lang, that’s why.
On February 27th, 2004, Detroit traded prospect Tomas Fleischmann, its first-round pick (29th overall) and its 2006 fourth-round pick to the Washington Capitals for Robert Lang.
While Detroit never did anything major during Lang’s stint behind the Winged Wheel, he was successful, playing 159 games through parts of three seasons and posting 119 points (40 G, 79 A) and a +31 rating.
Evolution of the First-Round Pick
That first-round pick traded to Washington was used to select a right-handed defenseman named Mike Green. Green a veteran of 556 games over ten NHL seasons, has been linked to the Red Wings through trade rumors dating back to last year. In his 556 appearances, Green has reached the 70-point mark twice and accumulated 351 points (108 G, 243 A) and a +51 rating. Green also potted 31 goals in just 68 games during the 2008-09 season; which places him as the only NHL defenseman to ever score 30+ goals in less than 70 games. Green also set the NHL record of being the only defenseman to score a goal in eight straight games.
So what if the Wings had never traded that pick? Hypothetically (much like the Phil Kessel trade that saw Toronto’s first-round pick go to Boston and become Tyler Seguin), they would have drafted. Then, Green would have spent a few extra years in Detroit’s farm system than he had in Washington’s and he would have grown his body, his talent and his knowledge of the game.
Maybe then, Green wouldn’t have had so many injuries, had his body been given more time to develop for the NHL in a more proper manner. That one is a big maybe, though, as Green has only play in 70+ games in just four of his 10 NHL seasons.
The Fourth-Round Pick
The fourth-round pick Detroit traded to Washington became center, Luke Lynes. Drafted 122nd overall, Lynes played four seasons in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion, recording 215 points (100 G, 115 A) with a +14 rating in 269 games. Lynes was never played an NHL game.