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Mike Green moves on via free agency

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Mike Green moves on via free agency

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.

MORE CAPITALS: Ward's agent says Capitals still in the mix

 

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.