Is the timing right for the Washington Capitals to make a move for former crowd favorite Mike Green of the Detroit Red Wings?
By Bill Sands
The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 26, meaning we have less than a month left until the last-minute flurry of activity that marks the annual event. As has been the case for the past several years, the Capitals are front-runners in the league and will be looking to improve their roster ahead of another playoff run.
Given the complete failure that was the Kevin Shattenkirk trade last year, the Capitals aren’t in the market to make another big splash. Marquee players like Max Pacioretty and Evander Kane figure to be the biggest names moved, but the Caps have shown little interest in mortgaging the future for the present, and wisely so.
One potential move that makes sense for the Caps may be bringing back Detroit Red Wings’ defenseman Mike Green, whose contract is set to expire. With Detroit out of the playoff picture, Green is almost certain to be moved, and Alex Ovechkin created a stir when he mentioned his support for bringing Green back to Washington.
But just how realistic is this idea? Even if the Caps made the trade, would it be worth it?
The Case For Mike Green in Washington:
Familiarity: Green is a familiar face in Washington, having already spent the majority of his career with the Caps. The Caps know what they’re getting, and more importantly, Green knows what he’s getting into. He’s familiar with the system and the players, meaning there won’t be any unknown variables.
Experience: Green has over ten years in the league and is comfortable playing in all situations. The Caps have been relying on youth on the back end, so Green’s veteran presence would be a huge help in pressure situations. He would also serve as a good mentor for rookies Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos, both of whom play a similar style to Green.
Offense: Intangibles aside, there’s no denying that Green is just a good hockey player. He was an All-Star for a reason and he’s still one of the league’s better skaters and his first pass out of the zone is usually right on the tape. There have been some concerns about his durability, but he’s learned to keep his head up and protect himself. Adding him to the lineup makes the Caps a better team.
The Case Against Mike Green in Washington:
Proper Fit: Green has a very specific skill-set, but it may not be the kind that the Caps need right now. With Matt Niskanen and John Carlson already filling the role of puck-moving veteran defenseman, Green feels like a round peg that’s fitting into a square hole. The Caps need physical, stay-at-home defensemen to complement their more mobile defenders, and Green doesn’t fit that description.
Salary: The Caps don’t have much cap space to spare, meaning they would need to send money back to Detroit or get the Wings to commit to retaining some salary. Detroit doesn’t exactly have a ton of space either, meaning that the trade may fall through due to salary requirements.
Cost: In terms of the other kind of cost, the Caps also need to be wary of overpaying for Green. Deadline deals tend to be costly, and the Caps have been burned on bad deals before (The Martin Erat-Fillip Forsberg trade stands out). Giving up a draft pick or promising prospect for an aging player who is not guaranteed to re-sign is a risky move and may end up causing more trouble down the road.
What ultimately matters is how the Caps perform in the playoffs, and hindsight is always 20-20. The Shattenkirk deal seemed like a winner at the time, but backfired in a big way for Washington. There’s no need to force a trade, so look for the Caps to stand pat unless Green can be acquired for a modest return.