When Mike Green signed with Detroit last summer, the Wings finally felt like they got that big fish, right handed, free agent defenseman they were looking for (after striking out on Suter and Niskanen in the past). While Green is no longer the 30 goal, 70 point defenseman in his earlier Washington days, he’s still a really good defenseman capable of handling top pairing minutes on a weak Red Wings blue line.
Whether he gets the tough minutes, or Kronwall and Ericsson plays more minutes than them, Green will have to play a vital role if the team wants to make the playoffs this year, barring a trade for Trouba.
Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Mike Green took the traditional route to make the NHL, going through the CHL. Green played for Saskatoon, where he was a solid offensive defenseman, and got drafted 29th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2004. His first two seasons he spent up and down between the AHL and NHL, but his breakout season was 2007-08, when he had 56 points.
He followed that up with two seasons with more than a point per game, including a 31 goal season in 2008-09. After those seasons, he started to fall off due to injuries (and apparently not having the right stick). He recently has picked up the production, but nothing close to his earlier years.
LAST YEARS STATS
Green finished the season with 35 points in 74 games, about what should be expected of him at this point. Analytically, he had a 55.16% 5v5 CF%, sixth on the team, and 13th among defensemen in the league with more than 300 minutes of ice time. He’s also eighth in 5v5 CA60, with 47.13, and had a 0.63 5v5 P60, which was the third worst on the Wings, ahead of only Kronwall and Quincey, as he had just 12 points at even strength, so he relies a lot on the power play for production.
Mike Green’s closest comparable, according to Corsica’s similarity calculator, is Dan Boyle. Not in-his-prime Dan Boyle, but Dan Boyle from last season. The year that he retired. That definitely isn’t an ideal comparison. Boyle isn’t a terrible option, because he was a very good point producing defenseman for Tampa Bay and San Jose, who peaked in his earlier years.
While this doesn’t bode well for his offensive production, it’s a good sign for his defense, as Boyle has consistently been a good possession defenseman. The only time he’s dropped below 50% since 2007-08 (the earliest season that Corsica has data for) was last season, at just 49.95%, which is great for a 39 year old defenseman strapped to Marc Staal for a good chunk of the season. So, if this is an accurate comparison, Green will always be good at possession, even if he doesn’t produce as much.
Like a lot of Red Wings, projecting each player is tough considering the wild card that is Jeff Blashill. If I was running the team, I’d put him on a pair with Danny DeKeyser on the top pair so that DeKeyser isn’t given a large workload. If not DeKeyser, than Kronwall, but as long as Green is on the ice to help out one of Detroit’s lesser defensemen who are given top four minutes, then he will be used properly.
However, this is Blashill we’re talking about, so Green might also get second pair minutes while DeKeyser and Kronwall get the tough minutes. That might be better for Green’s production, but probably won’t be good for Detroit’s playoff chances. Green is, whether Detroit fans like it or not, the Wings best defenseman, and he should be used as such.