The Washington Times - July 16, 2012, 01:03PM

Mike Green was a Norris Trophy finalist twice, before injury problems hampered him the past two seasons. He was an offensive force as a defenseman, also before suffering a concussion, ankle injury and groin injury.

Health concerns notwithstanding, Green’s new three-year, $18.25 million deal with the Washington Capitals pays him like a top defenseman in the NHL. Green’s cap hit of $6.083 million as of right now is ranked 11th in the league.

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“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 statement. “He will continue to be a key part of our team moving forward.”

Green, who earned $5.25 million in each of the past four seasons, declined to accept the team’s qualifying offer of $3.5 million but got a raise anyway, along with some long-term security. Green said on a conference call that he wanted two years but accepted three.

The 26-year-old missed 50 games last season with the ankle and groin problems, finishing with just three goals and four assists. But improved defensive prowess out of a guy once maligned for having a one-way game kept his minutes up when returning to the lineup.

I think they know what I’m capable of. 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.

It’s uncertain whether Green will be able to recapture his Norris finalist form, when he put up 73 and 76 points in back-to-back seasons, but this contract is a show of faith from the organization that he can.

I don’t think I’ve got to prove anything. I think that personally and for my own mental state that I get back to that and I almost prove to myself that I can do it,” he said. “It’s been unfortunate over the last two years; I’ve worked hard to want to maintain that, and I’ve ran into some injuries that have caused a little bit of a fall-back in that department. I know that I’m able to do it, and it’s just a matter of me staying healthy and going and doing it.”