Mike Green - The Basics
Born: 10/12/1985 (30 years ago)
Contract Status: Signed through 2017-18 at $6M per year
Mike Green, the Red Wings' biggest free agency acquisition since Marian Hossa, is the right-handed top-four offensive defenseman the Red Wings had searched for since Brian Rafalski retired in 2011. Caleb wrote about Mike Green's expectations heading into this season, you can read the full article here. Here's what he hoped Mike Green would accomplish this year.
I expect an increased role for him as both his PP and 5v5 competition is weaker than it was in Washington. With that in mind, I think matching his 10 goal, 35 assist performance from last season is a pretty easy target for him that Wings fans would happily take. Anything else would be a pleasant bonus.
This seemed to be the consensus among lots of people. Green was brought in to chip in offensively, quarterback the powerplay, move the puck up the ice and log minutes in the top-four. He wasn't going to produce 70 points like he had at one point in his career, otherwise I don't think Washington would've let him test free agency. But I think it's a reasonable expectation that he'd finish with the most points among Red Wings defensemen, log a lot of time on the powerplay and help break the puck out of the zone. So how did he do?
What He Did vs. Expectations
If we're looking just at total points, Mike Green didn't really meet those expectations. He only recorded 7 goals and 28 assists for 35 points over 74 games played. But you have to keep in mind Green moved from a highly-potent offensive team in Washington to one that had trouble just breaking the puck out of the defensive zone. Our powerplay only ran at around 19% this year whereas last year's Capitals team had a powerplay which ran at an absurd 25.32%. And while Green's role increased compared to 2014-15, his average time on ice only went up by 40 seconds per game. And lastly, this was Jeff Blashill's first year as an NHL head coach in Detroit. He definitely wasn't going to get player usage right and there were plenty of personnel and strategy decisions Blashill made that didn't pan out.
So with each of those things in mind, how did Green perform? Pretty well actually. For the table below, the 5v4 stats are among 118 NHL defensemen who played 50+ minutes at 5v4 and the 5v5 stats are among 181 NHL defensemen who played 650+ minutes.
Green was one of the best point-producers at 5v4 among NHL blueliners and fared well in the 5v5 possession department as well. It seems like he did a good job producing offense on the powerplay and moving the puck up the ice at 5v5. The raw point totals might not have been as high as some, myself included, had wished but 35 points on a team that finished 23rd in Goals For with a rookie head coach isn't awful.
One statistic that strikes me is how many "Point Shares" Green contributed to the Red Wings. You can read more about Point Shares on Hockey-Reference.com but basically, it's a statistic that measures how many points a player contributed to their team's point total. Check out the Red Wings' Point Shares chart below, the results might surprise you if you were disappointed in Green's contributions.
Yup, that's Green up there with Larkin, Tatar, Datsyuk, Mrazek, etc. I don't think the statistics are painting a picture that's different than reality here, Green looks like an integral part of the team and I agree that he was. You can't expect him to play like a #1 or #2 defenseman, he's not the dominant player he once was offensively. But he does have the potential to log time as a good 2nd pairing guy. For what he is, a puck-moving #3 or #4 defenseman, I think he did a tremendous job this year. Were there some areas I think he can improve? Of course. But I'm perfectly happy with his play.
Final Grade: B
I think Mike Green was the second-best Red Wings defenseman this year, behind Brendan Smith. Danny DeKeyser is up there in that conversation as well, but the numbers don't reflect as highly on his play. A head-to-head comparison of Green and DeKeyser looks something like this. The closer to the boundary, the closer the player is to the 100th percentile in that specific metric, i.e., closer to the edge is better except for Percentage of Salary Cap.
Numbers aren't everything, but I think the numbers presented in the chart tell a lot of the story. DeKeyser was saddled with heavier competition and produced more primary points, but Green's contributions possession-wise outshine the marginal edge DeKeyser has in areas like HDSCA/60. Green checked enough of the boxes to warrant a B and I think the grade shows he still has areas where he can improve.