Mike Green’s season finished last night at Madison Square Garden, and the rumors about whether the defenseman will ink a new deal with the Washington Capitals or if he’ll get snapped up as an unrestricted free agent accelerated.
Green is an offensive-minded defenseman, although most of his goals were scored under offensive-minded former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. Of all the defensemen available during the upcoming offseason, Green will likely fall high on several teams’ wish lists. Such teams include the Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalance and the team that a lot of pundits think he’ll go to — the Detroit Red Wings.
Green, a right-hand shot, is no spring chicken at 29 going on 30. However, he still has many seasons to go in the NHL — if he stays healthy, which has been an issue in Washington. Coach Barry Trotz wisely did not overplay Green this season, and the latter had one of his better seasons with 10 goals and 45 points. Here is a look at Green’s full career stats:
His 2008-09 season was one for the ages as he scored a goal in eight games on the trot to register a new NHL record for consecutive games with a goal as a defenseman. He followed up that season with an equally fine goal tally of 19 in 2009-10, the season that the Capitals should have won the Stanley Cup (under Boudreau).
Ultimately, the Washington Capitals will let Green go. When they acquired the services of former Pittsburgh Penguins Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen at the beginning of this season, the writing was on the wall for Green. Unless he is up for taking a huge cut in pay (his current, expiring contract netted him an average of $6 million per year), he won’t be a Washington Capital in 2015-16. It comes down to economics.
Will He Stay or Will He Go?
Is allowing a crowd favorite (most of the time) with excellent career numbers to leave the franchise a wise move for the Caps? At this point, yes it is. It is simply unpractical to pony up that much salary cap space to a D-man who is number five or six on the blue line.
I’ve read and listened to all the nonsense about Green costing his team a place in the Stanley Cup Conference Final by taking back-to-back penalties in Game 7 against the Rangers on Wednesday. That kind of rebuke for a man who significantly helped his team make the playoffs for eight of the last nine seasons is ill-advised and reeks of people looking for a scapegoat. If some fans want to place blame on anyone, they should place it on Henrik Lundqvist.
So, Green will move on in the summer and I’m guessing we’ll see him suit up as a Red Wing in September. Upon his subsequent return to the Verizon Center for a game or two or three next season, the fans should give him the respect he deserves — even though he chose to bring a cat to the Capitals’ ‘Canine Calendar’ photo shoot last fall: