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What Should the Caps Do With Mike Green?
Saturday night in San Jose, Mike Green left the game with tightness in his groin. It was his second game back since he was out for almost two full months with a groin injury, and his fourth game since October 22nd. I wrote a few days ago that Green’s on-ice resolution needs to be to remain healthy, but it is looking like that this will not be the case. Green has only played 15 regular season games since February 1st, and with a $5.25 million salary owed to him for this season the Caps can be ill-afforded to resign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Green is an integral part of the defensive corps of this team and a key to the power play as well. He is looked upon to be one of the key pieces to the future of the Capitals, but he is injury prone. Granted, if the team resigns him, there is no possible way they will pay him the same amount of money that he is being paid now. The issue becomes the length of his contract. At 26, he will be looking for somewhere in the range of a 5 or a 6 year deal, and to tie up a portion of the salary cap to someone who is a huge risk to end up on the IR list is risky at best. Mattieu Perreault, Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin, Dennis Wideman, Jeff Halpern, and Tomas Vokoun all become free agents at the end of this year (with Perreault, Beagle, and Carlson being RFA’s along with Green) and the key resignings out of this list are Carlson (who will demand a lot more than the $845,833 he is making this year) and, if not Vokoun, another goaltender besides for Neuvirth. Also, Evgeny Kuznetsov will more than likely come over to the Capitals from the KHL and if he says with the big club next season his contact will be on the books as well. Semin will more than likely not come back to the team next season, and the total cap room that opens up by not signing Semin and Green is a little bit more than $13 million. That is a significant amount to be able to resign Carlson, Wideman, and a goaltender, with a little bit of wiggle room to be able to lure free agents available in the off-season.
Adam Vingan touched upon it slightly in his article on the same topic for Kings of Leonsis, and it’s something that needs to be addressed here as well. A groin injury is not something that goes away overnight. Tom Poti is a great example of this. He is sitting out this whole season due to one, and the chances of him wearing a Caps sweater again are slim. Green is currently in the same boat. He was quoted after the game against Calgary as saying that he wasn’t at 100%, and that’s a scary thought. Green is a fan favorite in The District, but this is purely about business. If Green sits out a full season due to a groin injury and ties up even $4 million of cap room, it’s a huge blow to the team. If the team is looking for UFA’s to make an impact in place of Green, there are a few who will be available this offseason. Examples of this would be Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Barret Jackman, Pavel Kubina, and John-Michael Liles. There are possibilities out there, and this is the time to explore other options than Green.