Photo credit: Greg Fiume

You knew it was coming. It happened when the Washington Capitals lost to Pittsburgh. It happened when they were ousted in the first round to Montreal. And here we are again after being on the losing end of a playoff sweep as the number one seed, discussing the inevitable: trade Mike Green.

To be fair, it’s not just Mike Green’s head fans are calling for. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has gotten his share of blame pixels, as has Bad Sasha, GMGM, and Uncle Ted.  Don’t forget: they once said to trade Ovi, too:

Let’s face it, with Ovechkin in their lineup, the Capitals have shown no signs of being a playoff team. There are no guarantees re-signing Ovechkin will make the Capitals a successful franchise. In fact, if history has taught us anything, moving a young star just might be the best medicine for a struggling team.

Mike Green Sign

Mike Green missed 33 regular season games due to injury this year, including Game 4 against the Lightning. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

People in the “Trade Green” camp will likely point to the plethora of puck-moving defensemen the Caps have in their system– whether that’s newly acquired Dennis Wideman; American hero, John Carlson; or the latest Russian import, Dmitry Orlov. All this is true: Washington is in good shape with offensive defensemen. This depth is something to hold on to– because sometimes you’ll need every last one.

Green’s detractors will also point to the lack of playoff production. I get it. Mike Green, two-time Norris finalist and Vespa rider needs to perform as well in the playoffs as he does in the regular season for the Caps to enjoy playoff success. Frustrated fans have seen him go from all-offense to part-offense/part-defense to more-defense-than-offense blueliner who just doesn’t seem to have the ability to bring it in the playoffs. But he’s only 25 years old. And that may very well be the reason to trade him.

We can set some reasonable expectations for Mike Green by seeing how similar players at similar ages performed over the next few years of their career. To determine performance, I will once again use GVT, Tom Awad’s Goals Versus Threshold statistic. GVT measures how many goals above a replacement player were contributed on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck. I found 22 defensemen who had a similar season to Mike Green’s 2009-10 campaign, the year he was a Norris finalist. When I say “similar season”, I look at games played, time on ice (where available), goals (even strength and on the power play), assists and shots on goal. It is possible a player has similar boxcar stats to Green but posts a lower GVT. I then took a look at how those 22 similar players did over the next six years. One year to see if there was a decline at age 25 (Green’s current age), and then five more years after that. This way, I am not penalizing Green for having an off year.

Players similar to Mike Green on average see their performance dip from ages 24 thru 27, before stabilizing and then rising back up. This makes sense as blueliners typically mature later than forwards. If not for injury, Green would have posted a GVT of around 11, which is average for his peer group at age 25. Again, the Caps played lights-out hockey the last time he was a Norris finalist so a regression to the mean is not out of line.

Of course there is upside with a puck mover like Green, but it is not as high as you think.

GVT 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
0-5 0.00% 5.00% 17.65% 28.57% 33.33% 10.00% 33.33%
5-10 27.27% 25.00% 17.65% 50.00% 26.67% 70.00% 25.00%
10-15 36.36% 50.00% 47.06% 14.29% 26.67% 10.00% 16.67%
15-20 31.82% 15.00% 5.88% 7.14% 13.33% 0.00% 0.00%
20-25 4.55% 5.00% 11.76% 0.00% 0.00% 10.00% 16.67%
25-30 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 8.33%
Grand Total 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

Very few make it back to the gaudy 20+ GVT level Green was at for his Norris nominations, most settling in the 5-15 range with very few seeing over a GVT of 15 over the next few years. A GVT of 10 would be fair value for a contract that had a $3.8-$4 million cap hit, nowhere close to the $5.2 million Green gets now or might get on a long term deal — even taking into account his RFA status.

Add his concussion(s) to the mix, and the risk increases quite a bit. Hitting Green is a strategy, and the more abuse he takes, the greater the chances he misses a significant amount of time during the season.

I’m all for buy low/sell high, but when it looks like the price can go lower you have to cut your losses. The Washington Capitals should trade Mike Green.

  • NHL_Observer

    The issue is not whether Mike Green “brings it” during the playoffs. The issue is that he can’t keep it. The word has been out on Green and just about all the Young Capitals that if you pressure them hard and continuously, they will make the bad turnover in their own end at just the right time. This isn’t limited to Green, it just seems to happen to him more regularly because he tries to carry the puck more than they do. Green had a solid Ranger series because he played a simple game and did not try to rush the puck out of his own end or hurry his shots on offense. In the Tampa series, he changed his game to add more offense and the result was more turnovers. The Caps a whole have to figure out how to play under pressure. Each round carries more pressure and a more hungry opponent. The Caps didn’t look hungry in the Tampa series and the Lightning adapted to the situation by pressure the Caps at every turn.

  • I Am The Mole

    There’s some compelling evidence here. It makes me sad because I definitely don’t want to see Green go. Regardless of our PMD depth Orlov, Wideman and Carlson are all steps down from Green’s offensive contribution.

    However we can’t ignore JC’s consistency. I can’t speak for Wides and Orlov, since we haven’t seen how they fit in with Washington over an extended period of time, but Carlson is only going to improve over time and may balance out the void Green leaves behind.

    Only time will tell, but I’m still sad that this team may need to replace some essential cogs to get it done.

  • The one thought that keeps going through my head is “any coach would be dumb not to make the job of his stud D harder if the dude is tearing up the easies”

  • Pat

    GMGM already said there weren’t going to be any changes made, so yeah……

  • sean

    I say wait until the trade deadline, as long as he is having a decent season his stock will go up. This is a gamble because he might get hurt, but it is his final year on his contract so might be motivated to play harder.

  • PainKiller

    I may be mistake, but I believe that getting a concussion makes one more susceptible to another concussion. If true, he’ll only get more head injuries and get them more and more frequently. Anybody care to comment? Am I right or am I wrong?

  • PainKiller

    Damn I hate when I make typos. Especially that last one. I assure you I am not a mistake. I simply may be mistaken!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, that’s my understanding. Many players just have one or two and then are fine (remember, Green took some contact to the head against NYR, both a shot to the head and a couple of elbows, right?), I’d think. Some people, just biologically, are more susceptible than others. Not everyone ends up like Savard (who went what, 6 years between his 1st and 2nd concussions?) or Lindros.


    I’m grateful this isn’t a “should we trade Alex Semin” post…thanks guys!

  • scott

    Mike Green is a solid 3rd or 4th 1 way defensive player at best on most teams, which is how I feel he was trying to play this season. He is elevated by the fact the 2 years ago he was a goal scorer and contributor to the Capitals power play. Now he’s not so much a contributor, spends more time dancing with the puck than distributing and throwing it at the net and letting Knuble and Laich do what the get payed to do.

    It has nothing to do with injuries or system change. He is simply not worth the 5 million a year the capitals are paying him unless he goes back to playing as an offensive defenseman.

  • Cathy W

    Blocking a shot with your head is not the brightest move, but it shows heart and that you care and want to win. Something that does not show up in stats. On the flip side of the trade Green debate, is that trading him in no way means that they would get a defenseman in return or that Orlov would make the team next season or that they would resign Hannan or that Poti recovers. Keeping Green makes it less likely that Sloan, who is under contract for next year, is in the top 6 on d.

  • jeremiah

    you right we should trade him boston has been looking for a plyer just like him in order to win the cup. that way he could join the ranks of Scot stevens, Sergei Gonshar, and Larry Murphy. Shortsighted statistician post are always so fun when they forget history

  • Don’t worry @28ISGreat…. I’m sure that’s next weeks blog post 🙂

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  • barb

    @michelle yup 🙂

  • Greg

    I think Green did well in this post season. It’s hard to shine when your entire team gives up after Game 2.

  • Beth Auerbach

    Trade for who? Kris Beech? Makes little sense except in the context of what the Caps might get. . . unless you’re just looking for a salary dump. I would think long and hard about what’s lost and what’s gained before trading him, and I’d set the bar pretty high. Otherwise I’d be happy to hang onto him.

  • Brad

    Trade the bitch

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  • Devin Shannon

    Let Mike get healthy this summer. Let’s see how he is in training camp. He was a Norris finalist twice before this past year. He is simply too talented to simply give up on him. If the right offer comes along, then fine. However, that is the case for every player including Ovie! On August 9, 1988, we all learned that there is no such thing as an untradable player (Gretzky). If the deal of the century comes along, then trade. However, he is too good a player to throw away.