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.
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.
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.