Friday, September 12, 2008

2009-2009 Previews: Mike Green

The cousins ran out of beer, and were off collecting empties to finance their next purchase, so we’ve been out for a few days. But now, we come to…

Mike Green

Last Year: 82 games, 18-38-56, +6, 4 GWG

Career average (per-82 games): 10-24-34, -6

Fearless’ take: Let’s start with this…Mike Green has played a total of 174 regular season NHL games. Of the top ten scorers among defensemen in the league last year, Green finished the year having played the fewest career regular season games (next fewest – Mark Streit: 205), and he was the youngest (Dion Phaneuf is 185 days older). What’s more, he was 15-34-49, +14 in the last 61 games of the season under coach Bruce Boudreau. That works out to a 20-46-66, +19 full season rate of production. Let’s look at this another way and compare his first three seasons (a partial and two more or less full seasons) with another defenseman and his first three seasons (a partial and two full seasons):

Green: 174 games, 21-50-71, -12, 4 GWG, 8 PPG

Player 2: 165 games, 21-66-87, +43, 2 GWG, 10 PPG

Let’s also note that Green played his partial first season and his first full season with a struggling team. Player 2 played on a team that made the playoffs in both his partial first and then his first full season. Player 2 is Scott Niedermayer. Green is by no means there, yet. He is not the Scott Niedermayer of the last ten years, but it is not beyond reasonable to think he will get there. More to the point, being managed by a coach who gives him sufficient latitude to do the things he does best, and being paired with a defenseman who complements his style very well by being a stay-at-home type (Shaone Morrisonn), he could move a little closer to that high standard in 2008-2009.

Cheerless’ take: Twenty seconds. That’s how much penalty killing time per game Green had last year. Shoot, Joel Kwiatkowski got more: 33 seconds (Uh, Cheerless?...Kiwi played in only 18 games). That’s Patrice Breeze-by territory (22 seconds). Among top ten defenseman scorers, Green had by far the lowest amount of PK ice time (Mark Streit: 49 seconds/game, the only other top-ten scoring defenseman with less than 1:20 of PK time/game). Oh, and that Niedermayer comparison?...Scotty had 3:33 of PK time/game in 48 games. Are the rest of the Caps’ defenseman that good at killing penalties that he should be last among the defensemen in that measure?

He had one big year…look at those first 92 career games, cuz. 3-12-15, -18. Was last year the start of a trend, or was last year a fluke?...a one-timer of a year? He’s got that big ol’ contract now that pays him 21 million bucks over the next four years. That sounds like a recipe for a fall to me, cuz.

The Peerless’ take: Green’s young career falls into two very clear and very neat stages:

The Hanlon Stage: 113 games, 6-16-22, -26, 0 GWG, 0 PPG
The Bourdreau Stage: 61 games, 15-34-49, +14, 4 GWG, 8 PPG

But what is interesting about that “Boudreau Stage” is that it represents something of a continuation of Green’s performance under Bruce Boudreau at Hershey…68 regular season games, 12-39-51, +9, 3 PPG.

Green does have issues in his own end. He can be at time a little lackadaisical with the puck, and he can seem to lose focus at times. Both seem the kinds of things that plague a lot of young defenseman. We don’t put a great deal of stock in the penalty killing time issue – sorry, Cheerless – since he logs so much time otherwise. What Green is, is almost the prototypical post-lockout defenseman (“offensive” category). He skates well, handles the puck well, has good judgment (given his age and experience) in jumping into the play in the offensive end, has a good sense of timing on weak side plays, is effective on the power play. In the last ten years, only one defenseman playing more than 60 games in a season achieved a point-per-game performance (Nicklas Lidstrom – 80 points in 80 games in 2005-2006). Green, given his talent, the talent around him, and the philosophy of the club, appears best positioned among current NHL defensemen to achieve that level of production. It will not, however, be this year.

Projected: 20-44-64, +15

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