In the last weeks leading up the March 3rd trade deadline, we're going to be taking a look at potential trade targets for the Red Wings. Since we've been talking defensemen for a long time around here, that's where we're going to focus mostly. Yesterday we took at look at Oliver Ekman-Larsson out of Arizona. Today we'll shift our focus East and take another look at Mike Green.
We last looked at Green over the summer where we wondered why the Caps would move him before they knew anything about how the season would turn out. Now that we're in February, we're going to take another gander.
Birth Date: October 12th, 1985 (29 years old)
Place of Birth: Calgary, CAN
Experience: 10 seasons
Drafted by Washington in 2004 (29th overall).
Mike Green is a ten-year veteran who is yet to hit 30 years of age. He's got the highly sought-after right shot and can quarterback a power play as well as anybody. While injuries have slowed him down over his career, he's the only defenseman in the modern era to have ever scored 30 goals in a single season. He may not be from Detroit, but he was drafted with one of their picks (the 2004 first-rounder that the Wings spent as part of the deal to get Robert Lang).
The Pros and Cons:
For Detroit, the benefit is getting the puck-moving right-handed defenseman they've been looking for year-after-year. The downside is that Mike Green is set to become a UFA. For a more in-depth look at what we'd have in Green and what we'd have to give up, we reached out to Japers' Rink's Rob Parker (@RobParker_JR). Here's his rundown.
The moment the Caps signed Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to long term deals last summer, it seemed to signal the inevitable end of Mike Green's time as a Caps defender. Over the last ten years Green has shown himself to be one of the best puck moving defenders in the NHL. He's a key to an elite power play unit, and he's routinely among the best defensemen in the league when you look at the possession stats. Most hockey fans already know this, and they know the flip side to the Mike Green scouting report is something along the lines of "disaster in his own end." While he's never going to be Nick Lidstrom, he's better in his own zone than he's ever gotten credit for, and ultimately he doesn't spend a whole lot of time in his zone because of the aforementioned possession numbers. Simply put, he's an elite offensive weapon that gives the Caps a lot of depth and options on the blue line.
But pinning down his value is tougher. He's on an expiring deal so there's a risk for any team acquiring him that they may not be able to extend his current contract (paying him just north of $6M per year, for reference). That will certainly bring his value down for some teams, but the Caps are also (allegedly) shopping him during the trade deadline season, when prices are routinely inflated. Green also plays role that is scarce on talent across the league (how long have the Red Wings been looking for a right handed puck mover?) and the Caps don't have a salary cap concern to move him. Finally, unlike last year the Caps are poised to make the playoffs, where having Green's offensive talent would be a huge bonus. All together, the Caps are trading from a position of strength and depth. There's no reason for them to settle on a lesser package. If a team wants to put some insurance on the risk that Green walks, a conditional First round pick should do the trick (like Tampa Bay did with Ryan Callahan last year).
So with that out of the way, I think the discussion for Green starts with an elite forward prospect. As noted, the Caps just signed two veteran defenders to a long term deal, and they have Karl Alzner and John Carlson locked up for years. The Caps also have several young defensive prospects so replacing Green with another defender doesn't make a ton of sense. The Caps absolutely need help in their secondary scoring, so I think if Ken Holland wants to call Brian MacLellan he'll probably hear "Anthony Mantha" or "Dylan Larkin" come back through the phone. I tend to think that's probably too steep for the Red Wings (or any team, really - nobody parts with high-potential, cost-controlled forwards anymore) so it's unlikely a deal will get done, but that's a reasonable starting point when you are talking about prying a game-breaking offensive talent from a team that's poised to make a playoff run.
(Ed Note: I'm guessing Darren Helm is out of the question)
We'll get this a lot with guys like this, but Washington is dealing from a position where they can happily walk away from a deal that doesn't wow them. The idea of making a pick conditional on Green re-signing in Detroit is interesting, but I do believe the Caps are in a spot where they can walk away from an offer that's not a blue-chip prospect and should avoid an offer that doesn't improve the team in the short run. The Wings aren't really in a position to give up a prospect even better than Calle Jarnkrok was last year for a gamble that Green would only be around a few months.
I look at the Washington situation in much the same way I look at the situation Detroit was in with Valtteri Filppula in the summer of 2013: The team knows they may not be able to get any value for having him walk in free agency, but they're in a position where explaining a deal to a fanbase that expects a playoff run in the coming months in which the team got worse for the short-run is a really tough sell for a GM. I'd like to have Mike Green in Detroit for this postseason, but I can't make a deal make sense for both teams in my head.