Monday afternoon, the Washington Capitals announced that they had signed defenseman Mike Green to a three-year contract worth $18.25 million. The deal, which covers two summers of unrestricted free agency for Green, has an annual salary cap hit of just over $6.08 million.
“It’s been a long process,” the defenseman said on a conference call Monday. “With the setback of the injury, we were going to wait. It’s been pushed back, but I think that obviously I wanted to be in Washington and they wanted me back.”
The Capitals should have wanted Green back, because they needed him. As I wrote just hours before Green was signed, he is one of their best defensemen and, when healthy, is one of the best puck-moving rearguards in the entire NHL.
"Since Green signed his four-year contract before the 2008-09 season, only five defensemen have collected more points than Green's 180 – Nicklas Lidstrom, Dan Boyle, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, and Zdeno Chara. Only one, Weber, has scored more goals. That is without doubt elite company, and though Green is by no means in the same class as these defensemen at this current moment, it shows just how good he has the potential to be.
His defense is improving. Not only has Green visibly been better at blocking shots, holding coverage in his own zone, and making plays on the body, but he has been the Capitals’ best possessor of the puck on the blue line each of the last four seasons – despite the fact that his offensive zone start percentage decreased in each of those four seasons. That is definition improvement, and even if you don’t believe in 'fancy stats,' he has yet to have a plus-minus season in the red since becoming a regular. He’s not great defensively, but he is better."
Still, the signing is undoubtedly a risk. A big risk. When you look at the last two season’s of Green’s career, he has suffered with bad injuries – a bum ankle, a concussion, and an abdominal injury, to name a few. Committing this type of money and term to a player with that type of recent injury history is scary. But for his part, Green feels as though he is through with consistently being hurt and is ready to work harder than ever to return to his old form – that of one of the premier offensive defensemen in the NHL.
“I think they [the Capitals] know what I’m capable of,” he added. “It’s been unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries but I think I’m over them now, I think I’ve got them all out of my system. I think that as happy as I am that they’re happy and they know that I’m committed to the hockey team and doing whatever I can to be the best that I can. “