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Caps GM says Green is still in team’s plans

Jul 1, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

Washington Capitals v Nashville Predators Getty Images

Despite some huge investments on the first day of free agency, Mike Green remains the highest-paid Washington Capitals defenseman, cap-hit wise. The question is: should that previous sentence include the phrase “for now”?

You never really know when it comes to “vote of confidence” quotes, but new Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that the divisive defenseman is still part of the team’s future, as’s Chuck Gormley reports.

Still, it becomes a complicated picture when you consider the impact of former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Niskanen, in particular, seems to bring similar perceived strengths and weaknesses as Green.

Green, 28, only has one year left on a contract that carries a $6.08 million cap hit. That leaves his longer-term future in doubt and also makes him easy to move in a deal.

Still, he isn’t that far removed from the days when he was lighting scoreboards on fire. Green scored 31 goals and 73 points in 2008-09 and generated a career-high 76 points in 2009-10. Considering his age, the turmoil in Washington and how much the Capitals have invested in him over the years, it might be tough to cut the cord.

Then again, maybe it’s all a work in progress, really. How Orpik will fit in seems pretty open-ended at the moment:

Meanwhile, MacLellan seemed to make some not-so-forward-thinking comments defending Orpik, only to clarify in a way that should make stats-leaning Caps fans a bit more optimistic:

One more interesting note, especially if you enjoy pondering trade scenarios: MacLellan explained that Washington allowed Mikhail Grabovski to walk because they ultimately chose to add two defensemen rather than one center and one blueliner in free agency. MacLellan said he’s still looking for a center, so if that interest in keeping Green isn’t so genuine, perhaps that might be the type of asset that can pry Green loose?

A lot is in the air in this situation, whether Green is really primed to stay or not. Then again, it wouldn’t be the Caps if there wasn’t a little bit of unpredictability, right?

  1. capsnbohs23 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    If he stays and has a bounce back year then our top 6 is better than last year, if he is gone then we have more cap to find a center, win win

    • lowenni - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Agree. I believe Green was the Caps second best possession defender last year and even if he’s lost half a step he can still really move the puck and has some nice moves. I would like him back on the top PP as well. Paired with Alzner or Orpik (who I like, but not at that price), or even Nate Schmidt (who I wanted the Caps to play in the top-4 instead of signing Orpik)…Green could be real good again. He had his best years paired with shutdown defenseman, not Dmitry Orlov. If it doesn’t look like it’s gonna work out we can maybe package him and Johansson and trade him for a 2C, aka Grabovski who we should’ve resigned instead of getting Orpik.

  2. rsl22 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    There are better ways to find cap space, including getting rid of Erskine, Hillen, Beagle, and Laich. There are finally going to be 6 NHL defenders in the lineup…now’s not the time to be moving a two-time Norris nominee who is pretty much worthless as tradebait.

    • cliffatola - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:49 AM

      The problem is no one wants the other 4 players you mentioned either.

  3. gkc3 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Why don’t the Caps just move Green to the Red Wings or any other interested team? We could get back maybe a prospect and a draft pick and then resign Grabovski. I definitely think that would be better for the future of the team.

  4. Stiller43 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    “Niskanen, in particular, seems to bring similar perceived strengths and weaknesses as Green.”

    Have you EVER watched either of them play? Nisky is NOTHING like Green.

    • James O'Brien - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:09 PM

      They’re both right-handed offensive defensemen in their late 20’s who are likely to log a lot of PP time and are about the same size. Speaking broadly, there are some similarities. Niskanen’s recent numbers are better but it’s not like comparing, say, Green and Brooks Orpik.

  5. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    I never hated GMGM, come backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!

  6. steelcity333 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    Thanks for the memories here in Pittsburgh Orpik and Niskanen but those two got vastly overpaid, especially Orpik.

    • Eutaw's Finest - Jul 2, 2014 at 6:27 AM

      No denying the stretch for Orpik by the Caps, but Niskanen wasn’t too much of a stretch at all. He wanted $6M/year, ended up with slightly less, and as of the noon kickoff of FA yesterday he had 5 teams in a bidding war for his services. I can’t imagine the Caps threw a number out there that was leaps and bounds above all others. Needless to say, his contract is indicative of what the market deemed the right price for a right handed D man in a thin market.

  7. ludacrish05 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    Wish I could spend 70 million dollars and get away with it

  8. lordfletcher - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    I am not a fan of Green but I wouldn’t mind seeing him being traded to my Wild as he shoots right and can provide a huge boost to out PP. That said, the price would be right and currently, his value couldn’t be much lower.

    Not trying to play internet GM but I would move Zucker and a 2nd and see where that takes us

    • bethgoesglobal - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      @lordfletcher hope you’re having a good summer so far :) I’ve also wondered about how Green would fit into the Wild roster, but Caps will want too much in return (especially after their signings today- Orpik 5@5.5 WHAT!!!) I think the Wild should to add some grit and grime to their defense first and there are still guys available that could fill those needs at bargain basement prices.
      Looking forward to the 14-15 season; seeing where my Two home teams go with their new additions. Excited to see Vanek w/ the Wild and Orpik/Niskanen w/the Caps

      • Eutaw's Finest - Jul 2, 2014 at 6:29 AM

        I can’t imagine the Caps would want too much to be honest. The cap relief itself would be a huge deal, and would allow them to get a 2C. Perhaps they’d ask for a 2/3 round pick in ’15 and a player (not a top line guy by any means, but a serviceable NHL body).

      • rsl22 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        Caps new GMBM said he wants to improve defense. Getting rid of of Green now that he finally will have a serviceable playing partner will only hurt the team. I highly doubt he gets moved.

  9. Stiller43 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Green is more of a Letang – makes some sweet offensive moves/has a nice shot, but can make some dumb mistakes and is sometimes a liability at D.

    Niskanen doesnt take the chances either of them takes, and in turn doesnt make near the amount of mistakes.

    Nisky was basically logging point PP time last year because of Letangs health/bad mistakes at the point – not becauses he’s an amazing PP point man.

    Dont get me wrong, I would have loved to have Nisky back (NOT at that price), but he plays nothing like Green IMO.

  10. Stiller43 - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Love ya, but “speaking broadly” is about all ya have in this comparison, IMO.

  11. pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:50 AM

    I would hope so… Hes a great player. He just needs to be more patient and read the plays when he doesn’t have the puck. He also has to have faith his team mates will win battles and not pinch up all the time

    • pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      Its that damn Norris trophy spoiling the minds of defense men….. They really need to make another award like the selke trophy for defenders.

  12. trbowman - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    Mike Green is one of the softest players in the league. He’d fit in well in the NBA. Guy isn’t very good.

    • pj608 - Jul 2, 2014 at 5:19 AM

      Yeah… Duncan Keith is pretty soft too and look where thats gotten him. He just needs to find his game and that entire team needs to play better. Its not just 1 or 2 guys. It is their entire squad

  13. phtjoey - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Caps currently have the most expensive (29.7 mil) group of d men in the league. Doesn’t guarantee excellence, but, as an owner, spending that amount of money, you expect some very good results.

  14. watermelon1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    You can’t even call Green a defenseman. Ask any of his former goaltenders.

    Would be so happy for the Caps to finally lose that baggage and ANYTHING received in return would be a bonus.

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