NHL Free Agency 2012: What Contract Makes Sense for the Capitals' Mike Green?

Robert WoodCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28:  Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals watches the game against the Washington Capitals from the bench at the Verizon Center on February 28, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Washington Capitals defender Mike Green has established himself as one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in the NHL.  

Over his seven-year career, the 26-year-old Calgary native has averaged 11.7 goals, 24.1 assists and 35.9 points per season.  

Green also averages a plus/minus rating of 8.9, with only 42.6 PIMs per season.  He excels on the power play too, with 54 percent of his career goals and 43 percent of his career assists coming with the man advantage.  Mike has been a workhorse with a career average of 22:24 minutes per game.  

These numbers have helped Green achieve elite status among his fellow defensemen, as he was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy in two consecutive seasons.  In 2008-09, Green had 31 goals, 42 assists, and a plus/minus rating of 24.  The following season, he was even better, finishing with 19 goals, 57 assists, and a plus-39 rating.  

But since then, he has had trouble staying healthy, playing a total of 81 games over the past two seasons.  As a result, his numbers have fallen off, especially when looking at his season averages.  

In 2010-11, Green averaged 0.16 goals, 0.33 assists and 0.49 points per game; his lowest numbers since the 2006-07 season.  During the 2011-12 season, Green's averages in all three offensive categories dropped even lower, falling to 0.09 goals, 0.13 assists and 0.22 points per game.  

This statistical decline provides a backdrop for the beginning of NHL free agency.  Mike Green is one of many prominent free agents around the league, albeit as a restricted free agent (RFA).  

Because of his recent injury issues, Green should receive less attention than expected on the free-agent market.  He will now be perceived as a risk, and his new contract will most likely reflect that.  But he is still a veteran who, when healthy, is a dangerous offensive weapon.  

Therefore, Green should receive a four-year contract worth $6.5 million a year.  This contract would be the same length as his expiring deal, with a $1.5 million increase in annual salary.  It would also compare favorably to the contracts of other offensively skilled defensemen, such as Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf and Erik Karlsson,

Green's numbers have proven he is worth the money, but his health has proven he is not worth a long-term deal.