Ben Raby , wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Defenseman Mike Green has no doubts that he can again produce the offensive numbers that made him one of the NHL’s most gifted blueliners from 2008 to 2010.
The Washington Capitals also are banking on the two-time Norris Trophy finalist returning to his old form.
Green and the Caps agreed Monday on a three-year, $18.25 million deal that will keep the restricted free agent in Washington through the 2014-2015 season.
“I think they know what I’m capable of,” Green said in a conference call Monday.
“I think, as happy as I am, that they’re happy and they know that I’m committed to the hockey team and doing the right things to be the best that I can. It’s win-win for everybody.”
Green led all NHL defensemen in scoring in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, but injuries have limited the Calgary native to just 81 games combined in the two years since. The 26-year-old has battled head, shoulder and groin injuries and underwent sports hernia surgery last season.
“It was unfortunate the last couple years that I’ve suffered from injuries,” he said.
“But I believe that I’m over them now. I think I got them all out of my system.”
Along with the injuries, Green saw his offensive numbers fall drastically. After averaging 1.04 points-per-game from 2008-10, Green averaged just 0.38 PPG the past two years.
But the only active defensemen with multiple 70-point seasons didn’t hesitate when asked if he could still produce 70 points in a season.
“A hundred percent and it’ll be next year,” he said. “There’s no question about it. I feel like I’m just getting into my prime.”
Earlier in the day, Capitals general manager George McPhee expressed similar optimism in a team-issued release.
“Mike is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League and is just entering his prime. He will continue to be a key part of our team moving forward,” McPhee said.
Under new head coach Adam Oates, and with former Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman having signed in Calgary, it’s very possible that Green will in fact have ample opportunity to regain his scoring touch.
“I’m excited that Adam is here, actually really excited. From what I’ve heard and how he likes to coach fits my style of play and also a lot of the other guys. Hopefully there’s a balance between [former coaches] Bruce Boudreau and Dale [Hunter]. I think Adam’s the guy.”
Green, who made $5 million last season, will make $6 million in each of the next two seasons and $6.25 million in the third and final year of his new deal.
Green also acknowledged that he originally sought a two-year deal – which would have offered him a shot at unrestricted free agency at age 28 – but that the Capitals offered him an extra year.
“I want to make sure that I’m healthy and in [a] good state to play in Washington. It’s a very energetic team and whatnot. And I wanted to see if they wanted me there still and they did, which was very nice and very comforting.”
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