Last week, I put up a poll asking PHT readers which defenseman is the NHL’s best at creating offense. As you can see from the poll results (click the thumbnail image to enlarge it), Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green won in a landslide.
In fact, if you added the other choices together, they’d only have 11 more votes than Green (20 more if you count write-in candidates). That’s pretty amazing, but it shouldn’t be surprising either; Green is clearly a unique scoring talent. In his three years in the league, he already scored an impressive 56, 73 and now 71 points. Who knows what Green’s ceiling could be on such an offensively diverse team as the Capitals?
Let’s take a quick look at how Green’s first three years compare to the beginnings of some of the league’s best point producing defensemen. Again, his first three seasons featured 56, 73 and currently 71 points. (All stats taken from hockeydb.com.)
Paul Coffey (1980-81 to 82-83 seasons): 32 points, 89 and 96.
Bobby Orr (shortened seasons 66-67 through 68-69): 41, 31, 64 … of course he then hit 100+ points three times following those years.
Ray Bourque (79-80 to 81-82): 65, 56, 66
Nicklas Lidstrom: (91-92 to 93-94): 60, 41, 56
Phil Housley: (82-83 to 84-85): 66, 77, 69
Denis Potvin: (73-74 to 75-76): 54, 76, 98
Brian Leetch: (starting with his first reasonably full season from 88-89 to 90-91): 71, 56, 88
Obviously, Team Canada did just fine without Green, but I felt like he deserved to be on the team. His defensive flaws are – in my opinion – a bit overblown. Sure, I wouldn’t call him a shutdown defender (and he may never become one), but you cannot deny the firepower he brings to the ice.
It will be interesting to see if Green can burst through to the rarefied air of 90 and 100 point seasons. Then again, the league obviously has changed quite a bit since the days of Housley and Coffey. Either way, Green’s career start compares favorably to many of the league’s all-time best point producers from the blue line and it should be intriguing to see if the general hockey public will warm-up to the faux-hawk’d player as time goes on.
Do you think Green could one day be shoulder-to-shoulder with the Coffey’s of the world? Is his offensive production worth the inherent risks he takes?