Sometimes NHL teams pay their players based on what theyve accomplished.
Sometimes they pay them for what theyre capable of accomplishing.
On Monday, the Capitals did both when they signed defenseman Mike Green to a three-year contract worth 18.25 million.
With the deal, Greens contract eats up roughly 6.1 million in cap space and leaves the Caps roughly 10.6 million below the current cap of 70.2 million. Some of that cap space will be filled when restricted free agent defenseman John Carlson signs his contract extension.
With that in mind, did the Caps give Green too much? Too little?
It all depends on his health.
From 2007-10 Green was arguably the most explosive defenseman in hockey, rolling up 205 points in 225 games over three seasons 0.91 points per game and earning every penny of his 5 million annual salary.
But in the past two seasons, injuries forced Green to miss 83 of the teams 164 games. As a result he managed just 30 points in those 81 games, an average of just 0.37 points per game.
Green could make the argument that his offensive numbers went down last season because former coach Dale Hunter told him to concentrate on keeping goals out of his net instead of producing them at the other end.
It is reasonable to assume that with Dennis Wideman gone and new coach Adam Oates in charge, Green will be back quarterbacking the Caps No. 1 power play unit.
But will his offensive numbers ever return to 2009-10 levels, when he led all NHL defensemen in goals 19, assists 57 and points 76 and was second to defense partner Jeff Schultz plus-50 with a plus-39?
Apparently, the Caps are banking on it. With an average salary of 6.1 million, Green is now the 13th highest-paid defenseman in the NHL, slightly ahead of Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
So it's hard to argue the Caps gave Green too little money.
But to earn his pay, first and foremost Green will need to stay healthy. Following the 2011-12 season Green said the abdominal surgery he had to repair a sports hernia had left him feeling better than he had in years and that he was anxious to play his first full season since 2009-10.
If Greens body can hold up and he can regain that magic of three seasons ago, hell be worth the 18.25 million If not, that 6.1 million cap hit will serve as a three-year albatross for George McPhee and the Capitals.
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