At the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, there was some question as to where Mike Green fit in to the Capitals plans moving forward after injuries derailed the smooth-skating offensive catalyst each of the past two seasons.
By agreeing to a new, three-year deal worth $18.25 million with the Calgary native on Monday, the Capitals made it clear that they still see Green as part of the organization’s framework and believe he can stay healthy.
“I think they know what I’m capable of,” Green said on a conference call. “It was unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries. But I believe that I’m over them now. I think I got them all out of my system. I think that as happy as I am, that they’re happy and they know that I’m committed to the hockey team and doing the right things to be the best that I can. It’s win-win for everybody.”
Green, who earned $5 million each of the past three seasons, got a raise with this new deal. He will earn $6 million each of the next two seasons and $6.25 million in 2014-15, which makes the salary cap hit $6.083 million. Green said he sought for a two-year deal but accepted the Capitals’ offer for three.
“Mike is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League and is just entering his prime,” General Manager George McPhee said in a news release. “He will continue to be a key part of our team moving forward.”
A skilled puck-mover and two-time Norris Trophy finalist who recorded consecutive 70-point seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10, there’s little doubt that when Green is at the top of his game he can help jump start the offense and add layers to the Capitals’ game.
But Green, 26, hasn’t been the same player since a host of injuries – a shoulder problem, concussions, ankle problem and lingering groin strain – limited him to just 81 regular season games in the past two seasons combined.
In 2011-12, Green missed 50 games largely because of a groin problem that eventually required sports hernia surgery. He appeared in only 32 regular season contests and recorded seven points (3 goals, 4 assists).
Can Green return to his previous form? Perhaps. With this deal, the Capitals certainly seem to believe he can.
Asked point blank if he believed he can reach the 70-point plateau again, Green was adamant he could.
“100 percent and it will be next year,” Green said. “Absolutely, there’s no question about it. I feel like I’m just getting into my prime.”