Photo Credit: © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

UFA Profile: Mike Green is a more affordable gamble for the Oilers

I wrote last week about John Carlson being a perfect fit for the Oilers. He’s a right-shot defenceman who can produce offence at a high level which is exactly what the team needs right now. Unfortunately, there’s this thing called the salary cap that’s going to get in the way of Carlson coming to Edmonton.

There’s another option out there on the open market who could fill that same role at a much, much cheaper price. Ironically enough, that cheaper, Carlson-lite option is none other than Mike Green, the guy who Carlson evolved behind during his young days with the Washington Capitals.

Who is Mike Green?

Once upon a time Mike Green was the best offensive defenceman in the NHL. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, Green was the runner-up for the Norris Trophy in consecutive seasons. He put up 149 points in 143 games, which was the most among defencemen during that two-season span by a country mile, quarterbacking the power play on a juggernaut Capitals squad.

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Green’s next few seasons were derailed by injuries. Between 2010 and 2013 he played in just 116 games and he saw his production drop to well below the point-per-game pace that he was operating at prior. Green did bounce back for a couple more strong seasons in Washington but certainly wasn’t the offensive dynamo he was during his prime.

The Capitals let Green walk as a free agent in 2015 as Carlson had effectively moved into his role as the team’s primary offensive weapon from the blueline. Green inked a three-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings worth $6 million annually. He was under-the-radar solid in Detroit, producing at a 0.50 point-per-game clip on a fairly mediocre team. His 2017-18 season was ended early as he was forced to have surgery on his cervical spine but he’ll be ready to go next season.

Does he fit on the Oilers?

For the same reason that John Carlson would fit like a glove on this Oilers team, Mike Green checks off all the boxes. He’s an offence-producing right-handed defenceman which is probably Edmonton’s most glaring need at this point.

As I’ve said, Green isn’t the same elite offence producer that he was during his prime. He isn’t going to score 80 points and contend for a Norris Trophy, but, as we saw during his thoroughly solid tenure in Detroit, he can still produce. He had 33 points in 66 games in 2017-18, which would have been the most on the Oilers among defencemen by seven points.

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The Oilers lack an offensive defenceman who can quarterback the power play at this point and Green can do exactly that. The only issue here is the risk surrounding Green’s surgery and how he’ll bounce back. Obviously, a guy who’s going to be 33 years old at the beginning of the season coming off spinal surgery has a pretty decent red flag attached to his name, but that could also drive his price down on the open market.

Green isn’t perfect but he fills a need. The Oilers simply can’t afford to throw a boatload of cash at John Carlson, but Green would be a solid consolation prize for a team in need of this exact kind of player.

  • FanBoy

    2 year deal around 4.5M-5M should be the deal for him. It’ll look real bad if he gets injured or doesn’t produce in the first year. This’ll allow Bear to play top minutes in the AHL for a full season.
    By the second year, we should be able to add Bear to the lineup full time for that offensive D role we’ve long coveted.

    • Kepler62c

      I mean, Mike Green is still a solid 2nd pairing D in the NHL… He might only get $2-3M on the market because of surgery and age, but fact is he’d be in the lineup every night unless something in his play drastically drops off due to the surgery.

  • Cambridge

    Over the last two seasons Green’s plus/minus is -34. Every defenceman on the Oiler’s current roster is way better than that. He should only be signed as a #7 defenceman and a power play specialist. Any other idea is dreaming in technicolor.

  • OilCan2

    I would be inclined to give Bear a shot especially if the bidding gets too high on Green. Let’s face it: Green will be going for one last big payday as a UFA.

    • fasteddy

      100% you let Bear be that guy over giving this guy more than league min. He’s Auvitu with name recognition. There are dozens of right shot D that can run a pp but give up 30 more than they are on for….complete waste. Be better with a solid dman and a fwd playing one of the points on the pp.

  • Friesenhan

    1 year at 2 million would be acceptable. Spinal surgery is a very interesting piece here that will impact his contract. A full AHL season for Bear (and the odd call up, of course) playing with Yamamoto would be great. Green could be a third pairing guy with power play minutes galore. Kind of like how we should have treated Schultz? 2 million is not a huge risk-if it doesn’t work, the consequences are less than if we do something ridiculously risky like, say, trading the 10th and Klefbom for Ristolainen. Yuck.

  • IceMan11

    Considering he’s coming off cervical spine surgery, that tells me he’s probably 1 good hit away from his career being over.
    That said, I would say NO WAY should we consider acquiring such a HUGE risk.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Sure, he’d be fine on a one-year lower end contract, however, he’s not going to sign for 1 year at $2.5M or less and we cannot commit any more term (or cap) to a veteran player.

    I only really want one “material” acquisition this off-season, and its a legit right show top 4 d-man that can move the puck. With that said, Green is simply not in the right age category for this team.

    We do need to find someone to play 2RD so that Russell is not (he simply cannot play his off side in the top 4) – the main challenge is we would need to move out one of the left shot D and the two moveable assets are the ones we don’t want to move and the 2 we would prefer to move have trade protection.

    Its a conundrum.

    • Oilman99

      Troupe not going to get your 2rd wish, there is way more need for atleast one top six winger. That said, considering his age and health situation, Green is not going to get anything near $4m other guys are are talking about unless there is more desperate GM than Chia. If he is still around by training camp maybe a capfriendly contract for a year could work for a year to give Bear big minutes in the Bake.

    • Kepler62c

      Your statement that Russel can’t play top 4D on the right side is unfounded, he played there in 2016-17 when they made the playoffs and was great all season.

      Not saying I like him there next season, I’d like them to acquire an upgrade too – just saying that he is capable of playing there, and has shown it in the past with good results.

  • belair

    Green’s going to cost you at least $4m on a two or three year deal and that’s being generous–it’ll likely be even more. If we were to sign Darnell to a $3.5m AAV bridge, Benning to one worth $1.2m AAV,
    and Caggiula and Strome to their QOs, that’d leave us around $8m to fill four forward roster spots and a seventh defenseman. Green is too pricey.

  • oilfan4ever

    It took Sekera a year to come back from surgery and I don’t see this guy being much different. He has already lost a step and is now likely to lose another one. Don’t waste one dollar of cap space here.

  • Svart kaffe

    Forget about Mike Green. The only way he signs with Edmonton is by overpayment. Detroit wasn’t able to ship him out by the deadline because he would only play for them or Washington. Can’t imagine a talented East Coast guy looking for his last paycheck joining a depressing team out west for nickels.

  • Ted

    Mike Green was a great player until his concussion in 2011. He has never been the same player since. Then a second concussion in 2014 I would not touch Mike Green his career is so done ala Lindros. He should retire not be rehired. BOOM.

  • puckle-head

    I’m surprised by the negative reaction to this idea. Yes, he’s on the wrong side of 30, but the aging curve tends to be much more forgiving for defense men (for reference, Mike Green is younger than Brent Burns, Duncan Keith, and Giordano. He’s not in the same class as those guys, but he has produced good offence consistently and appears to have some hockey left in him). That said, price and term are always key. GMs should never hand out long term deals to older guys unless they are superstars but if you can get him on a short term deal, that seems like a decent low risk gamble in a position we badly need to improve.