F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 01/09/12 at 01:04 PM ET
Last Tuesday, Capitals fans everywhere were delighted with the return of Mike Green, after missing 23 consecutive games with a groin injury. An injury that, supposedly, might never fully heal. Midway through Green second game back (@SJ 1/7/12), Hunter shut him down again. Hunter said it was because of tightness, and not a hit he took, but it does little to dispel my worries. Green did not practice with the team on Sunday.
It might only be January, but it is worth reminding that Green is currently in the last year of his deal. A deal that sees him make 5.25 million. Given some of the current contracts, that number was expected to increase dramatically. Since 2008, when Green signed his current deal, we have seen many comparable blueliners sign contracts worth North of 7 million annually. Most recently, Buffalo gave Christian Ehrhoff a deal that gave him 10 mil for the first season. Most fans would have been more than happy to give Green this raise. He is one of the most popular players on this team, and most would probably be in favor of unloading Alex Semin, if it meant that Green would stay.
That was all pre-injury, though. Now Green has a permanent mark on his record. While concussions have certainly become the #1 thing people are looking for in player history, groin should be just as looming. Back in pre-Savardian times, persistent groin injuries was one of the biggest black marks a player could have on their record. When it is already out that the groin will never be 100%, any GM will think twice before looking at a long-term deal.
As great as the Caps are with Green in the line-up (9-1), the Caps have been forced to cope without him. The veterans, Hamrlik and Wideman, have rediscovered their old form. Wideman, who I pegged as a 3rd-pairing guy who would leave in the offseason, has become Washington’s most consistent blueliner, logging more than 24 minutes a game. Carlson and Alzner are both continuing to develop their games, though Carlson seems to be going through more growing pains. Orlov, who I thought would see minimal action as an injury call-up, has become an everyday starter in place of Jeff Schultz, who I still see moved at the trade deadline. John Erskine has proven capable, albeit seeing limited ice time.
Is Mike Green the best defenceman the Caps have? I think that is unquestionably true, when he is healthy. The question becomes, how much should the Caps reasonably offer Mike Green. Going into this season, I was hoping to see Green sign a long-term deal, at a relatively good hometown discount. I was hoping somewhere in the area of 7 years, 40-45 mil. This probably meant no more Alex Semin, but I thought the Caps had enough new talent (Brouwer, Johansson) and more coming (Kuznetsov) that they could part with the enigmatic winger. Now, I don’t know if the Caps can go anywhere near those terms with Mike. Unless he plays at least 41 games, and produces should the Caps make it to the post season, I can’t see them being comfortable with anything more than a 1 year contract with Green making less than his current deal. At one point, I would have placed Green as the 2nd or 3rd most important player on this team (depending on where you value Backstrom). Now, I have to put him lower.
So, the question I pose to all of you is, “Can the Capitals continue to succeed without Mike Green, in the long-term?”
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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