Recently, the Washington Capitals resigned their “star” defenseman Mike Green to a three-year deal worth $18.25 million. While Green has been productive in the past, his recent history shows the signing may have been a bit of a stretch considering who was out there. I wanted to look at Green side-by-side with a recent signing that escaped the Capitals’ front office, in addition to Ryan Suter.
Today The Philadelphia Flyers signed a 14-year offer sheet for Weber worth approximately $100 million. The Nashville Predators have just seven days to match the offer or else he’s making the trip to the “City of Brotherly Love.” Weber has been stout throughout his career both offensively and defensively. Many hockey fans know him for his participation in the hardest shot competition during All-Star weekend, where only Zdeno Chara could best his shots of over 100 mph. Last year, Weber had 19 goals and 30 helpers to total out 30 points, leading the Predators to a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference and a trip to the second round where they were bested by the underdog Phoenix Coyotes. Nashville took a chance this year and invested a ton of money in players on its roster like Weber and fellow defenseman, now a member of the Minnesota Wild, Ryan Suter. Unfortunately for them, it failed and they are seeing players depart left and right. Weber is a big physical defenseman that knows how to play the puck and use his 6’4”, 232 lb frame to his advantage in terms of playing the puck by poke checking. He also has been known to deliver big hits as well. The one thing especially good about Weber is his ability to produce on special teams, leading the league with 10 powerplay goals for defenseman. If the Predators let him go, he may be a nemesis for the Capitals for years to come.
Don’t get me wrong, Mike Green is a capable player in the NHL. However, each time I watch a game, I feel as if he’s a right wing playing defense. Green was great earlier in his career, especially from 2007-2010. In 2008-2009, Green and teammate Alexander Ovechkin became the first pair of teammates to lead the league in goals for their respective positions; Green with 31 goals and Ovechkin with 56. He set a career high in points the following year with 76, 19 of which were goals. Since then, he can’t stay off the injured list. The Capitals have a huge investment in a player that just doesn’t play defense well either. There are times when I question his ability to skate backwards as he turns and skates more often than no when offensive players beat him. He tends to lift his stick more than a typical defenseman should because he has that scoring mentality from the point all the time. I love offensive defenseman for thev versatility they provide, but defense should always be the first responsibility. He also struggles performing quality hip checks that end up causing a breakaway/scoring chance for the opposition. The one telling moment of his career was when he wasn’t even chosen for the 2010 Winter Olympics for Team Canada. Steve Yzerman was in charge of making the team and he must have felt that Green lacked the ability to contribute defensively, hence why he was left off. While making Team Canada is a tremendous feat for any hockey player, Green should’ve found a way on that squad, but Yzerman was right. If Green doesn’t improve his health or learn how to play defense more efficiently, goaltender Braden Holtby may be in for a long season.