Why Washington Capitals Must Avoid Trading Mike Green Within the Division

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent IJune 11, 2014

It's starting to feel like a trade of Mike Green by the Washington Capitals is all but inevitable. 

The nine-year veteran has seen his production drastically decrease since he was nominated as a Norris Trophy finalist in back-to-back seasons, according to Hockey-Reference

In 2008-09 and 2009-10, Green combined for 50 goals, 99 assists and 149 points to go with a plus-63 rating and 28 power-play goals, finishing second in the Norris voting both years.

In the four seasons since then, Green has combined for only 32 goals, 63 assists and 95 points with a minus-eight rating and 15 power-play goals. 

Green's health has been a direct cause of his decreased production. In the aforementioned four seasons, Green played in only 186 of a possible 294 games. 

Despite playing in 70 games this past season, Green still saw a dramatic change in his ice time, as further proof of his declining production and usefulness.

Case in point: Green failed to lead Capitals defensemen in both total time on ice per game and power-play time on ice per game for only the fourth time in his career and the second time since 2006-07. That was Green's second year in the NHL, which also happened to be the last time the Capitals missed the playoffs. 

On top of all that, Green is set to earn $6.25 million in the final year of his three-year contract, with a cap hit of $6.08 million. As Adam Vingan of NBC Washington so eloquently stated on April 18, "That is a lot of scratch for a player who is no longer the faux-hawked dynamo he used to be." 

As far as Green's impact on Washington's payroll, the Capitals currently have the eighth-smallest cap space in the league at $14.93 million, when assuming the upper limit of $71.1 million, as first reported by TSN.ca on Dec. 9, 2013. Although this represents a decent amount of cap space for Washington, trading Green would free up even more, allowing for additional flexibility if the team attempts to overhaul the roster.

With all this in mind, the possibility of trading Green was debated all season long. Now, the rumors are materializing in earnest. 

Not surprisingly, MyNHLTradeRumors.com is full of pixels related to the Capitals' blueliner.

But it was Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal who may have written the best summation of the argument for trading Green back on June 1: 

What are the odds of Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green, once a Norris Trophy finalist, being traded at the entry draft or early this summer? I’d say 75-25. He has one year left at $6.25 million, then he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2015. The problem with Green is he can’t stay healthy. He’s had concussion and groin issues as teams keyed on him and pounded him routinely. He’s missed 108 games the last four seasons after 73- and 76-point seasons back-to-back. If he can get a defensively strong partner, he can be an asset, though. I can see the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are badly in need of a puck-mover, taking a shot at him. Maybe Florida, which has salary-cap room, or even the Detroit Red Wings, who do not have any right-handed shooting D-men. The Philadelphia Flyers certainly need an offensive defenceman, too, although would Washington trade with a division rival? 

Ay, there's the rub. 

The prospect of trading Green to a division rival would deal a significant obstacle to the proceedings. In fact, the Capitals should avoid that scenario at all costs. 

This is Mike Green we're talking about. 

A former first-round pick in the 2004 NHL draft. 

An original member of the Young Guns

And a frequent visitor to the Capitals record books for defensemen, both for single-season and career marks: 

Mike Green's All-Time Rank Among Capitals Defensemen
Games Played825th50310th
Plus/Minus Rating+392nd+438th
Power-Play Goals+392nd513rd
Game-Winning Goals181st183rd
Overtime Goals31st81st

Dealing away the cornerstone of a franchise such as Green would be a jarring experience for both the team's fans and the player himself.

But Green could find a silver lining. 

If the team that drafted him, developed him and established him as a household name were to suddenly give up on him and trade him away only nine years after it all began, Green would be chomping at the bit to make them pay for their disloyalty. Such is the case with many professional athletes facing similar circumstances. 

And since he's only 28 years old and therefore still in his prime (as long as he stays healthy), Green would be able to exact revenge for many years to come. 

This is precisely why the Capitals must not trade him to another team in the Metropolitan Division. 

Under the new scheduling format, teams in the same division play each other a minimum of four times a season and a maximum of five times. If the Caps were to trade Green to the Flyers, for instanceas proposed by Mathesonthen they would have to face Green and his new teammates at least four times in the regular season. That's a scary thought. 

An even scarier thought is that the Caps would be at risk of facing Green in the postseason as well, as the NHL's realignment makes it more likely for teams to play divisional opponents in the playoffs. 

Adding to all this is the fact that Green may not be that far from a career revival. 

George Foussekis of The Hockey Writers certainly thinks so, as he opined on May 8: 

This writer feels that Mike Green is a player who can be saved.  In order for him to be saved, he needs a competent coach and a quality defensive partner who can help him gain confidence.  If there is a confident Mike Green on the ice, there is a dominant performer who can excel in all areas of the rink. 

Mike Green is a defender who can supply lots of “O from the D” if he is let loose.  He has a big shot and lots of skill which has been seen in years past.  This writer feels that he is unfairly criticized and is not the main cause for the Capitals issues.  Green is still a big part of the Washington Capitals and had a big part of their success a few seasons ago.  He needs the right coach who can bring him out of his shell and he needs the right defensive partner who can let him play like a loose cannon on the ice.  If Mike Green receives those two things in the near future, he will have a resurgence in his NHL career. 

Foussekis is not asking for much. In fact, the Capitals themselves may be able to find that combination for Green under their new regime. So, to take the chance on trading Green within the division only to see him turn over a new leaf with a bitter rival would be most unwise. 

What would be the end result of such a foolish gamble by the Capitals, you ask? 

Game over, man. Game over


Note: All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise. All salary and payroll data courtesy of CapGeek unless noted otherwise. 


    Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin can define his legacy in Game 7

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin can define his legacy in Game 7

    Puck Prose
    via Puck Prose

    Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz takes hot lap before Game 7

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz takes hot lap before Game 7

    Puck Prose
    via Puck Prose

    Oshie, Ovechkin give Capitals’ power play unique options

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Oshie, Ovechkin give Capitals’ power play unique options

    Adam Gretz
    via ProHockeyTalk

    Capitals’ Stephenson a Playoff Revelation

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Capitals’ Stephenson a Playoff Revelation

    Kevin Hargrave
    via The Hockey Writers