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.
“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.”