Mike Green's role looks highly uncertain on Washington's retooled blueline. Is he about to become a Detroit Red Wing via trade, or will the Caps stand pat?
Earlier this summer there was speculation the Washington Capitals would trade defenseman Mike Green. They enter this season with only a little more than $1 million in salary cap space and have been linked to abrasive checking-line forwards Paul Bissonnette and Dan Carcillo. They have little room to add either player and address other needs if required during the season. Shedding Green's $6.1-million cap hit would address that issue.
This summer's additions of blueliners Matt Niskanen ($5.75-million cap hit) and Brooks Orpik ($5.5 million) raise questions about Green's role in the Capitals defense corps. Assuming Niskanen and Orpik form one pairing while John Carlson and Karl Alzner make up another, Green could become an expensive third-pairing rearguard.
ESPN.com columnist Katie Strang, responding to a reader's question regarding Green's trade status, expressed surprise he hadn't been dealt yet. She speculates his value might not be particularly high at the moment. Colleague Craig Custance also addressed Green's status during a recent live chat, suggesting there's no rush for the Capitals to move the 28-year-old defenseman.
Custance believes the Detroit Red Wings are a natural fit for Green and notes they have the depth in young talent to interest the Capitals. The Wings seek a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. They were linked to Green earlier this summer in the rumor mill, though that chatter has since died down.
The Wings might covet Green's offensive skills, but his salary and lengthy injury history could concern them. They have a little more than $5 million in cap space, meaning they'll have to move out a salaried player to create additional room to absorb his cap hit. Though Green's entering the final season of his contract, the Wings (or another club interested in him) could demand the Capitals to pick up part of his salary to facilitate a trade.
Should the Capitals put Green on the trade block they'll likely want a promising forward in return. While the Wings have the depth in young talent to make a pitch for Green, they won't part with Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Anthony Mantha or Tomas Jurco. Realistic candidates are Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening or Joakim Andersson.
As Custance notes, the Capitals aren't under pressure to move Green. They aren't above the cap, so they don't have to make a cost-cutting trade before the season opens. In late-July CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman claimed the Capitals were lukewarm toward trading Green, as they want to see how he'll perform under new coach Barry Trotz.
It appears the Capitals will enter training camp next month with Green still on their roster. That will give them time to evaluate his adjustment to Trotz's system. It could also improve his trade value as other clubs assess their own blueline needs.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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