This contract is all risk for the Capitals and all reward for Green. Upon signing Green to the deal, the team praised his numbers, reminding fans that he is one of only two active NHL defensemen to register a seventy-point season and the only one to have recorded two 70-point seasons. The Capitals were also quick to point out that he was a two-time all star and two-time Norris Trophy runner-up.
These facts are indisputable, but they are misleading. The numbers and achievements the team praised came during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. For the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Green played a total of 81 regular season games, scoring 31 points—a precipitous drop off from his two seventy-plus points seasons, to say the least.
The Capitals are taking a huge risk on throwing that much money after a player based on what he did in the past and what he thinks he will do in the future. Upon signing the contract, Green said, in a media conference call,
Will Mike Green ever hit 70 points again?
I think they know what I’m capable of. It was unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries. But I believe that I’m over them now. I think I 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 the right things to be the best that I can. It’s win-win for everybody.
Sorry Mike, it’s not a win-win for everybody; in fact, it’s a win for only one person: you.
It’s a risk for the franchise and a risk for the fans. If you pull up lame, again, you’ll still get paid; but the team will have to scramble to replace you and then worry about the replacement player fitting into the system and producing.
That scenario may be fine for a rebuilding team or a team that’s not expected to contend for the Stanley Cup, but the Capitals are expected to contend. Any type of potential stumble toward that goal needs to be avoided.
Capitals general manager George McPhee should have let Green sit after he turned down the team’s qualifying offer. The odds are very likely that no team would have attempted to sign him to an offer sheet based on his injuries over the last two years.
If a team had extended Green an offer sheet, it would have been easy for the Capitals to pass on matching that offer, giving them draft picks and a chance to move on from a player that they essentially did not have for the last two seasons.
Just as sure as the Capitals won’t regret letting Alexander Semin walk away for nothing, they will regret signing Mike Green to a three-year contract.