The general consensus is that Mike Green will not be a member of the Washington Capitals next season. While that’s not definite by any means, the 29-year-old defenseman is a pending unrestricted free agent and the Caps are already committed to four blue-liners through at least 2016-17: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner.
For what Green could command on an open market where right-shooting d-men have become highly sought-after commodities, it probably won’t make sense for the Caps to re-sign him. At this point, the bigger question may be whether they should trade him prior to the March 2 deadline, as opposed to letting him walk away for nothing this summer.
Based on today’s standings, the Caps would need to collapse in a significant way to miss the playoffs. And make no mistake, Green has contributed to his team’s success. In 52 games he has 31 points, the 13th most among all NHL blue-liners, and he remains one of the most productive power-play quarterbacks in the league.
For Caps GM Brian MacLellan, much of the decision will depend, obviously, on what he could get in return for Green. At the same time, MacLellan also needs to ask himself how deep the Caps, as they’re currently assembled, could get in the playoffs. And if he thinks they’ve got what it takes to make a run in what many consider a wide-open Eastern Conference, how much would losing Green hurt?
What may help convince MacLellan to trade Green is that, with Niskanen and Carlson, he’d still have two right-shooting d-men who were capable of manning the point on the first-unit power play.
On the other hand, Green’s been no slouch five-on-five, and somebody would have to replace the 15 or so minutes he’s been averaging at even strength.
Green, by the way, logged a season-high 23:24 and collected two assists in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to St. Louis.