DETROIT – The Red Wings have coveted a veteran defenseman with a right-handed shot since Brian Rafalski retired.
On Wednesday, the first day of the league's free-agency period, the Wings got the man that fits the description when former Washington blueliner Mike Green reportedly agreed on a three-year contract worth $18 million.
A tremendous skater with a natural acumen for offensive production from the back end, Green, who will turn 30 years old in October, will be expected to give the Red Wings that much-desired, right-handed shot from the point on the power play. He’ll now have the opportunity to distributing the puck to Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the Red Wings’ power play, which ranked second in the league last season – at 23.8 percent – behind the Capitals (25.3 percent).
Last season, Green finished among the top 20 league defensemen in assists (35), points (45), and power-play points (17).
Over his 10-season career with the Capitals, Green has been the most productive defenseman from the players taken in the first round of the 2004 NHL draft. He has registered 113 goals and 360 points in 575 regular-season games.
His plus-58 career rating is second only to Blake Wheeler (+72) among first-round picks in his draft class that included Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Green topped a list of free-agent defensemen and, more than likely, could have commanded a longer-termed contract this off-season, but at the end of the day he felt the Red Wings’ structure best suited his style and skill.
“I think as players you want that, but I was willing to take a little bit less on term to go to a great organization that I’m extremely excited to play for,” Green told TSN. “I’m really looking forward to the fast pace, puck-possession team, or style of play that Detroit plays, and I think it’s a good fit for how I play, and how they play as a team.”
The Red Wings were reportedly looking for a depth player, someone useful not so much impactful for the right money. They may have achieved both. Green’s addition will help ease the work load for Niklas Kronwall, whose ice time has been north of 23 ½ minutes a night for the past three seasons.
Green is a two-time NHL First-Team All-Star, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, receiving the honor following the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, his best statistical years of his career. He scored a career-high 31 goals – 18 on the power play – in ’08-09. He followed that up with a personal-best 57 assists – 25 on the power play – in ’09-10.
A Calgary native, Green is coming off a three-year deal with the Capitals that paid him $18 million. Prior to that, he earned $21 million on a four-year contract from 2008-12 with the Capitals, who selected him 29th overall in the 2004 NHL draft.