We've talked about injuries a lot lately, focusing specifically on the Pittsburgh Penguins outbreak and the news that the Islanders will be without Rick DiPietro for another season. Now it appears the injury bug has shifted to Washington, striking Mike Green.
Green has had a season to forget, appearing in just 10 games for the Capitals in 2011-12. He has been on the long-term IR with a groin injury that the team hoped he would recover from in order to play at the start of February. Unfortunately, Mike Vogel of Washington's official site reports that Green will undergo abdominal surgery and is expected to miss another four to six weeks.
This news isn't really a surprise as it seems like it has been one setback after another for Green this season. It does come as a disappointment for both Caps fans and fantasy hockey players that were expecting Green to be able to suit up when the Capitals return from the All-Star break.
The big concern here is that Green's injuries have quickly become a trend. In 2010-11, Green only skated in 49 games - a year that raised red flags over the defenseman's durability. Now 2011-12 is preparing to head down the stretch and Green has only skated in 10 games. Granted, he is expected to make a return before 2011-12 is in the books, but it's clear his impact on the current season will be a limited one.
This doesn't bode well for Green financially, as he is skating in the last year of his current contract. Currently, the Capitals are paying $5,250,000 for the 2011-12 season before Green becomes a restricted free agent for 2012-13. The Capitals will have to think long and hard before plunking down a big offer to Green, especially a long-term one. His current contract is a four-year, $21 million deal - it's tough to imagine Washington will willingly turn over that amount of cash again to a player that has missed considerable time the past two seasons.
Will 2011-12 be the last year Mike Green spends with the Washington Capitals? It's certainly a possibility, given his injury history, unless he takes some sort of pay cut. When healthy, Green is one of the best offensive-minded defenseman in the league, scoring 250 points in 376 games. The real question that looms for Washington, and any team that might be interested, is whether or not those big offensive numbers are worth the risk he might miss a large chunk of time again.
If I'm the Washington Capitals front office I'm planning on letting Green walk unless his salary comes down in a drastic way. I love Green's talent, but his attendance over the past few years looks like this:
2007-08: 82 games
2008-09: 68 games
2009-10: 75 games
2010-11: 49 games
2011-12: 10 games*
His injuries are a recent trend but are alarming enough to make most teams think twice before offering him a new contract, let alone one that's in the neighborhood of $5 to $6 million a year.
From a neutral view, here's to hoping that Green is able to turn things around after this most recent surgery. As a defenseman, Green has posted some offensive numbers that few defenseman could even dream of such as his incredible 31-goal, 73-point 2008-09. Are those bloated numbers enough to make teams, particularly Washington, overlook his recent injuries? I guess we will have to wait to find out.