I was at the game. I didn't hear what he said, and I have failed in finding a video to see what exactly he said about Green.
Fortunately, a ton of people happen to tune into "Rivalry Night." So I asked on Twitter what exactly Bob McKenzie said. Justin Trudel saw it, and offered his explanation:
@GMOnACouch Basically that he's a third pairing defenseman for us and we're not going to keep him at the price he's going to want.
— Justin Trudel (@staytru20) January 15, 2015
I wanted to clarify:
@GMOnACouch I don't think he said either, essentially. Green will either have to take a pay cut, or explore other options.
— Justin Trudel (@staytru20) January 15, 2015
Like I said, whatever Bob McKenzie says is pretty much the truth. But that doesn't mean it isn't really sad to hear.
Green is a third line defenseman. Green gets paid a lot of money to be a third line defenseman.
In fact, here's how much the Capitals defensemen get paid:
Green is obviously at the top. In fact, Green has the 11th highest cap hit among defensemen, sitting behind Erik Karlsson of Ottawa ($6.5 million) and in front of Brent Seabrook of Chicago ($5.8 million). Every single player in the top ten of that is a top line defenseman.
At the time Green's extension was signed, after the 2011-2012 season, he was coming off a 32 game season where he had just three goals and four assists. The contract represented more of what could be, and not what he had accomplished his last two seasons (in his 2010-2011 season, Green had 49 games, eight goals and 16 assists). This is a guy who was churning out 70 point seasons. In the 2008-2009 and the 2009-2010 season, Green had 149 points. Since he signed that contract extension, the one he is currently in, he has played in 140 games.
Green will never produce that point rate that he accomplished in those two seasons ever again. No one that is still on this team from those seasons will ever accomplish that amount of points ever again. But at the time, he was worth the money simply because he was a pretty good defenseman. He just hasn't played much since that contract.
What I'm saying is, that while it appears to be a pretty crazy contract from the beginning, it really wasn't too bad. But, that's not the point. My point is, do we have a chance at re-signing him.
Do we? I have no idea. Maybe he really loves hanging out with his teammates. Maybe he doesn't. I don't know, I'm not Mike Green. Maybe his wife Courtney loves the DC area and wants to start a family there. Maybe she doesn't. I don't know, I'm not Mike Green's wife.
What I can realistically guess is that Mike Green does love money.
As the Caps stand at this moment, Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, Aaron Volpatti, John Erskine and Jack Hillen are set to become unrestricted free agents. Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nate Schmidt and Braden Holtby are set to become restricted free agents. The cap is currently projected to be at $73 million next season. The Capitals have already spent $49,735,128 in contracts for next year, meaning they will have $23,264,872 to work with (obviously this number could drastically change before the Capitals begin the offseason). Regardless on who they plan on re-signing, (I see six or seven guys, I'll let you guess away) money will be kind of tight.
I think the only way it is even realistically possible for the Caps to re-sign Green is if he truly wants to stay here, and he's willing to go no more than $6.2 million.
To me, Mike Green benefits the Caps (more on that later), but I don't think he's worth that price. He's only worth that price because it will keep him away from other teams.
I don't see that happening. He'd be insane to not test out free agency. Because while I don't think he's worth much over $6.2 million, some team out there thinks he's worth $7 million.
Think that's not true? Excuse me while I proceed to laugh in your face as I look at every top free agent signing of defensemen since the absurd 13 year, $98 million signing for Ryan Suter. The game has changed. When a team signs a player to a contract, they aren't just giving him money for how much his talents are worth. They are paying him that extra million so they can call him "mine" and wave him off to all the other teams. They are paying an extra million so that the enemy doesn't get him. And Mike Green can command that attention. He and Marc Staal are by far the big UFA defenseman prize this upcoming offseason.
How valuable is Mike Green? Very. J.P. of Japer'sRink showed how awesome he and Dmitry Orlov were last year. And he is still kicking ass this year at possession:
Is he a little sheltered defensively? Yeah, but he is deployed in offensive situations because he is an offensive-minded defenseman. He has 23 points in 35 games this season, well on pace for his highest totals since 2010. He is the top power play guy on the point. As far as I know, there is no way to statically point this out, but if you watch a Caps power play, and you see Green compared to Matt Niskanen and John Carlson (it's far more evident with Carlson), Green dominates out there. He has the ability to put the puck exactly where Ovechkin wants it 99 percent of the time, and Green is not afraid to shoot. He quarterbacks that offense. He makes one of the best power plays that much better with his presence.
I can go on a rant about how Green is the third most valuable player on this team, but I'm like 40 percent sure I've done that in the past. Do I think he should get more ice time? Yes! And I think he could easily prove his value if he did. But, I also don't think Carlson or Niskanen should be demoted. It's just a really odd situation.
I've come to terms with the fact that it is highly unlikely that Green re-signs with the Caps (though I would be pretty happy if he did). So, what exactly should we do with him, and who could possible be his replacement?
There are two options for what we could do with Green. We could trade him at the deadline, or we could just let him walk.
The Caps should not trade him at the deadline.
First of all, he has a modified no trade clause, so while I don't know why exactly it's modified, it's a reasonable guess to say that he can't be traded without his permission in the last year of his contract. But even still, this team is very much a contender in the wide open Eastern Conference. Why on earth would the Caps be willing to trade away such a valuable player on their way to a playoff run? They would only trade him to another contender, definitely in the Western Conference, and no matter who they get in return, it won't be worth it. Trading Green for a bunch of prospects would just hurt the Caps chances, and I don't see any team trading away a $6 million man straight up for Green. It would just hurt both teams. Keeping him allows the Caps to work with their best defensive unit they've had in years, and it gives them a respectable chance in for a playoff run.
So I'd be cool with letting him walk if that were the case. Maybe they could continue feeling him out and seeing if he'd be willing to re-sign. Maybe they can ship his rights to a team for a draft pick, like they did with Tomas Vokoun and Jaroslav Halak, but would a team be willing to do that with a relatively high profile free agent? It has a chance of backfiring. But they don't have to get someone in return. It's really not the end of the world.
But who could possibly replace a guy like Mike Green, a great, puck moving, right-handed defenseman?
If they look towards free agents, the pickings are slim, as I showed you earlier. If they aren't willing to go big on a free agent signing, like they did this past offseason, then they will probably be looking for a $2-$3 million man. I would have said Toronto's Cody Franson at the beginning of the year. He will have gone through three straight one year deals after this season, but he is kicking butt this year as one of Toronto's top defensemen. He's averaging 21:07 minutes a game, second highest on Toronto, and he has 27 points, good for first among defensemen on the Maple Leafs. And even though Toronto is laughably bad, Franson is definitely not the reason:
I highly doubt he will be available to the Caps. I also would have said Johnny Boychuck, who is also killing it for the Islanders, the Islanders have money to spend, and they are already talking about extending him
@alerner31 Talks with Boychuk ongoing. Not quite yet for Leddy.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 14, 2015
So the options for a third line replacement include a very slim number of decent defensemen. And of the ones that are set to become free agents, there is a solid chance that a good percentage of those will just be extended anyway.
I think the Caps best option is to look from within.
I know Trotz likes left-handed players on the left, and right handed players on the right. I kinda dig that too, but the Caps best defenseman that hasn't played for the Caps yet this year happens to left-handed, and that's Orlov. Contrary to what you may believe, he's not dead. I actually saw him yesterday. He does in fact still have a hand. In fact, it looks like a standard hand. It's not deformed or green or anything. I'm not a doctor, much like I'm not Mike Green or Mike Green's wife, so I have no idea what is going on with him. But hopefully he comes back, especially next year, because the Caps might need him.
If Trotz wants to go with a right-handed defenseman, and he wants to stay consistent with puck movers on the right side, he could go potentially go with Connor Carrick, or even rookie Madison Bowey. When Carrick was up in the NHL, he was compared to Mike Green. I can't remember who it was exactly that made the comparison, though I think it was either Craig Laughlin or Alan May, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, Carrick was terrible when he was in the NHL. But the guy was just 19, playing with a bad coach and sub-par defensive partners. He's doing alright in Hershey this year, with four goals and 16 assists in 36 games. He definitely still has potential to be solid in the NHL, despite poor play as a 19. I can't stress it enough. He was 19. Bowey is probably a bit more promising, though I'm not convinced he is ready for the NHL. Bowey will be 20 next season, and while he has a 60 point season with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, and has already 33 points in 28 games this year as Kelowna's captain, and was one of Team Canada's top defensemen in the World Junior Tournament earlier this month, producing a goal and three assists in seven games, is Trotz really going to give him time next season? Maybe. Wouldn't surprise me.
Again, my hope is that Green some how extends with the Capitals. The Capitals are awesome, D.C.'s awesome, and Green's awesome. Then again, maybe the Caps don't think he's awesome. At least, Braden Holtby might not:
It's a perfect fit. I don't know what his options are, and I don't know what he's planning, because I'm not a fortune teller. Did you get all that? I'm not Mike Green, I'm not Mike Green's wife, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a fortune teller.