If Mike Green is on the Trading Block, Should the Devils show interest?

Over the last few days, John has taken a look at Andy Greene and how the Devils should replace him. At evens, he concluded Greene wasn’t much of a difference maker. A lot of it had to do with him being paired with Anssi Salmela, who isn’t exactly the best defenseman out there. While defensively Greene’s contributions might be easy to replace, replacing his offense might be harder. Henrik Tallinder can replace some of Greene’s offensive contributions, but not completely. Relying on the likes of Mark Fayne and Matt Taormina might be somewhat risky, just because of their lack of NHL experience. Colin White, Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador are all limited offensively, and most of the Devils prospects with offensive upside (i.e Merrill, Gelinas) might not be NHL ready. The Devils can try and acquire a puck moving defenseman during free agency, but with limited cap space next season it might not be a possibility. Then there’s always the possibility of trading for a defenseman. And after the recent events in Washington leading to their second round exit, some people feel that Capitals should consider trading Mike Green. User David Fine made a fanpost asking what you’d give up for the slick puck moving defenseman if they were to shop him. While there aren't any rumors about this and I don’t think that the Caps would shop Green, if they do, should Devils should show some interest?

While you might be thinking that trading for Mike Green might be a unicorn trade, there are some signs that are showing that Green is abit more horse than unicorn. One would be the logjam on the blueline. John Carlson was a stud on the blueline for the Caps in his rookie season, and at 22 he’s only going to get better. Carlson’s partner, Karl Alzner has also proven himself to be a solid defender and should be getting a raise as he’s an RFA this season. The Caps also have Jeff Schultz, Dennis Wideman and John Erskine all under contract for the next season. Additionally, prospect Dmitri Orlov might make a push for the roster as well. Moving Green can also make some cap space available if the Capitals want to retain Brooks Laich, who’s due for a raise.

Offense and the Power Play: Mike Green is an established offensive defenseman. Some of it has to do with playing on the high-octane Capitals, putting up tons of points in a run-and-gun system. While he might not put up 60-70 points on the Devils, having a defenseman who can put up 45-55 points would be great. Additionally, Green is highly effective on the power play- of his 79 career goals, 41 of them came on the power play. Even in a shortened season, Green would’ve ranked 4th on the Devils with powerplay goals with 5, only behind Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston. So yes, Green would be a welcome addition on the powerplay and at even strength.

His value: Neil Greenberg over at Russian Machine Never Breaks made their case for trading Green using GVT. Neil took a look at several comparable defensemen’s GVT to see whether or not there was a decline in their GVT after age 25, Green’s current age. He proved that similar defensemen would see a somewhat drastic drop in their GVT over the next two years, dropping from an average around 12 GVT to 8 GVT at age 27. While that seems bad, some defensemen do rebound and start putting up respectable GVTs again.

Additionally, his recent injury troubles might have lowered his value even more. Green sat out 33 games with head injuries, and missed game 4 of the 2nd round due to a hip pointer. While trading for a guy who’s suffered a few concussions (one due to a puck to the head, another due to a dirty hit by Derek Stepan), you have to remember that Lou did trade for Jason Arnott, someone who had 3 concussions in the previous three seasons. Although in Arnott’s case, he was only going to be here for one year, while Green’s an RFA after 2011-2012 so he could be in the Devils future plans. If his price is going to be lower because of the injuries, it might be worth giving up something for him.

His age: I mentioned that in the previous point that he’s 25 and he will be an RFA after the 2011-2012 season, meaning that if the Devils do make a trade for him they’ll be able to keep his services for a while. Trading for Green would allow the Devils to get an excellent offensive defenseman in his prime rather than relying on unproven talent or trying to land a free agent defenseman like Kaberle, Markov, Wiznewski or Erhoff.

The Surplus of defensively sound defensemen on the Devils: Green as we all know is not the best defender out there. Green’s routinely criticized for his lack of defensive abilities and there are tons of jokes where he’s referred to as a "forward". However, you look at all the Devils defensemen under contract; most of them are offensively challenged defensemen who are defensively sound. The Caps usually had Green paired with Jeff Schultz, a reliable defender who is solid in his own end, but not great offensively. The Devils could pair Green with Anton Volchenkov or Colin White, who are reliable defensively but weak offensively. However, pairing one of those two with Green would mean that Mark Fayne and Henrik Tallinder would be the two defensemen who’d have to face the toughest competition, as the option of sending out Volchenkov and White together would no longer exist.

Keep in mind that while there are many positives from acquiring Green, there are some downsides to acquiring the skilled defenseman.

Injury problems: While his injury problems might have lowered his value on the trading block, those injury problems will affect him on the ice. Neil pointed out in his article that teams will target Green more often because of this- one team that did this was the Rangers during their first round matchup. Teams might be discouraged to do this if they’re playing a physical team, but the Devils aren’t really a team full of physical players, they’re a disciplined team and they don’t employ any enforcers. Teams might be willing to throw cheapshots at Green knowing that there isn’t going to be anyone who’d go after them. Because of this Green might play more carefully, reducing his effectiveness offensively. Additionally, his injuries are related to concussions, so if he suffers a few more he’ll likely be spending more time in dark rooms than on the ice.

The Devils cap situation: First off, Zach Parise is an RFA this season, which clouds up the entire situation. No one knows how much he will be making next season and what his cap hit will be like. I’d probably expect a cap hit similar to Ilya Kovalchuk’s (around $6.7 mil) which would mean that the Devils might have to wait until after he’s re-signed before acquiring Mike Green.

In addition to Parise, the Devils have very little cap space. While the cap going up does help, they will need to shed salary via buyout or trade to fit Green under the cap. If the Devils send a high-salaried player in any trade, I’d assume the Caps would want more out of it seeing as they’ll have to take on some salary in return, which would be one of the benefits of moving Green. The Devils can of course buy out players to free up some space, but again they’ll be in cap trouble due to the numbers game- losing two players for the cost of one [very expensive] player who will put them up against the cap again.

The Cost: If you ask me, I’m not really sure what the Capitals would want for Green. Even if they move him, they’re pretty solid on defense. Up front they’ve got an all-world winger in Alex Ovechkin and a durable two-way center who could put up 100 points in Nick Backstrom. They’ve also got the enigmatic Alex Semin, who’s talent is often forgotten due to his cold streaks. Their goaltending might not be an issue, as Michal Neuvirth and either Varlamov or Holtby are more than capable of holding their own. The only area I might see them being weak is their supporting cast- Jason Arnott’s a UFA, although I think the Caps might be willing to re-sign him. Prospects might be the key here- a lot of their prospects have graduated and they will be looking to add some depth to their prospect pools. If the Devils were to trade for Green, they’d potentially have to sacrifice a top prospect like Gelinas or Burlon to get the deal done. However, if the Caps are asking for Urbom, Merrill or Henrique, I highly doubt that the Devils would give up one of their top prospects.Additionally, moving a 1st round pick in the deal might be risky because if the Devils manage to get a really low pick they'll lose a pick which

The Fourth Overall Pick: No one is really sure of what Lou’s plan is with the pick. If the Devils decide to draft another defenseman like Larsson or Hamilton with the 4th overall pick, trading for Green might not be that good an idea. If the Devils draft Couturier, Huberdeau, Strome or another forward they can consider the trade seeing as they’ll have one less defensive prospect who will be part of the team's future.

My Conclusions: While the Devils could use Green's offense, they do have other things to worry about right now like the draft and more importantly, Zach Parise's contract extension (and future). I'd be more worried about Parise right now than I would be about trying to acquire Green, who might not get moved at all. If the Devils need offense from the blueline, they can always try and sign someone like Anton Babchuk, who'd be much cheaper and cap-friendly in the short term, rather than Green and his big $5.25 million cap hit. Perhaps they could make a trade next year, when Brian Rolston, Colin White and Martin Brodeur's contracts expire and the Devils have more flexibility in regards to cap space.

As for this, what do you think? Should the Devils be interested in Mike Green? It might be a unicorn trade for now but if the possibility occurs, do you think it would be a good idea?

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