For the first time since the Capitals made him the 29th overall pick of the 2004 NHL draft, Mike Green is no longer a Washington Capital. Hours after NHL free agency opened at noon on Wednesday, Green signed a contract with the Detroit Red Wings, reportedly for three years and $18 million, according to TSN.
Green, 29, spent his entire 10-year NHL career with Capitals and, along with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, was a big piece of the young guns that took the NHL by storm with a high-flying, high-scoring style of hockey that led the Capitals to winning five Southeast Division titles from 2008-13.
With much of their salary space committed to unsigned restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals never made a contract offer to Green and that’s when he set his sights on free agency.
“Like anything else, when you have a significant change in your life that is very different than what you had before it creates all sorts of feelings and emotions,” Green’s agent, Craig Oster said last week. “In one sense Mike is a little melancholy about moving on and yet in another way he’s excited by a new challenge and a new chapter in his life.
“The biggest thing I got from Mike was that he was disappointed that they never had the success as a team that Mike would have liked to have and they expected to have in Washington. He really enjoyed his time in D.C. We were talking about it and it’s almost like graduating and moving on to your next stage of life and I think that’s what Mike is prepared for.”
The Capitals made barely a ripple in Wednesday’s free-agent pool, signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Taylor Chorney, a 28-year-old veteran of 68 NHL games.
In his 10 seasons with the Caps; Green played in 575 games and recorded 113 goals and 247 assists. He added nine goals and 26 assists in 71 playoff games.
But with last year’s free-agent signings of Brooks Orpik [five years, $27.5 million] and Matt Niskanen [seven years. $40.25 million] it became clear Green did not fit into the Capitals’ financial plans. He averaged $6.1 million in each of his last three seasons with the teams and with limited resources the Caps were uncomfortable getting close to that number.
Despite averaging just 19:06 of ice time, his lowest in eight seasons, Green put up 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points, his highest offensive output since his career high of 76 points in 2009-10.
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