Just when you thought the Capitals were done making big trade deadline splashes after acquiring Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks, Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman dropped some interesting possibilities in the latest edition of the 31 Thoughts podcast.
“I’ve heard that Jensen might be available,” Friedman said. “It just hasn’t worked there as much as they’d like. You just added [Brenden Dillon], and your top four is going to be [John Carlson], [Dmitry Orlov], [Michal Kempny] and Dillon. I think Washington might have some interest in [Mike Green]. Jensen’s what, extended for four years at two and a half million? That’s a big number. I just don’t think it’s worked there as much as everybody hoped so I could see Jensen potentially being moved.”
MacLellan was asked directly if he was looking to add another defenseman and said, "We have seven. We’ve got [Martin Fehervary]. We’ve got a couple guys in the minors we think we can use. I think we’re good depth-wise now."
Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that he was not interested in making any other moves on defense. Re-reading it, it does certainly leave some room for interpretation. While MacLellan does not want to add an eighth defenseman, he does not necessarily say he wouldn't make a swap.
There is no question Jensen has not played as well as the team had hoped. He was a top-four defenseman in Detroit but has struggled since coming to Washington and now top-four right defenseman is a glaring hole on the blue line. That's a problem that's not going away with Jensen signed through 2023. The fact that the team would be open to moving him for cap space is certainly believable.
But for Green? That part makes zero sense.
If the biggest issue for the Caps' on defense is that they have two third-pair righties and no one to plug into the top-four, how does switching a third-pair right defenseman for another solve that? Make no mistake, that's what Green is on a playoff team. He's a third-pair right defenseman with offensive skills and little defensive upside. How does that help?
To be fair, he actually ranks second among Detroit's defensemen in Corsi-for percentage and third in high-danger chances for percentage. He has only three goals and seven assists, but his PDO is 0.954 so he has been unlucky this season. Plus, all stats from Detroit have to be taken with a grain of salt given how bad Detroit is.
With the power play struggling, Green could help in that respect, but really the defensive aspect is hard to get past.
Let's take a minute to consider the current state of Washington's defense. They do not have a second-pair right defenseman. Jensen has struggled there all season and the addition of Dillon does not address that. Todd Reirden said Wednesday it was possible Dillon could see time on the team's second pair which would move Dmitry Orlov to the right, but Orlov has not played well on the right every time the Caps have experimented with this. These things are an issue for the defense. Does adding Green solve any of that? No, it doesn't. You still don't have a right defenseman to put into the top four and you're still looking at Orlov possibly playing on the right.
Would MacLellan actually intend for Green to plug into the top four? What do you do with Orlov because you can't pair those two together? Does he go up or down in the lineup? Is there any scenario in which Washington is somehow made better defensively by Green's addition? Probably not.
Yes, Green may be among Detroit's better defensemen, but so was Jensen. Green would bring with him perhaps some upside for a struggling power play, but he would not solve any of the defensive questions this team is facing.
There's a nostalgia factor that leads people to believe that Green was a better player than he was and is, but if the Caps want to make an upgrade at right defense, there have to be better options out there.
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