As part of our summer countdown series, CSNwashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley breaks down his Top 25 impact players for the Washington Capitals' upcoming 2014-15 season.
No. 8: Mike Green, Defense
2014-15 Salary: $6.25 million [$6.083 million cap hit]
2013-14 stats: 70 games, 9 goals, 29 assists, 38 points, minus-16, 64 penalty minutes, 22:43 ice time
Projected 2014-15 stats: 70 games, 10 goals, 25 assists, 35 points, minus-6, 44 penalty minutes, 20:02 average ice time
Analysis: Projecting the play of Mike Green is like playing darts while blindfolded. His nine-year career with the Capitals has taken so many unpredictable turns, from being a Norris Trophy finalist in 2010 to arguably the Caps’ fifth-best defenseman entering this season, when he will earn a career-high $6.25 million. Blessed with offensive instincts matched by very few NHL defensemen, Green is best when paired with a reliable, stay-at-home defenseman who can cover for him when he does what he does best -- leading a rush or jumping up to join the play. That’s why the Capitals’ coaching staff has a difficult decision on their hands. Green would benefit most from playing alongside hard-hitting veteran Brooks Orpik. But should Green’s ice time come at the expense of John Carlson, whose progression the past two seasons has moved him ahead of the soon-to-be-29-year-old defenseman? With the arrival of Matt Niskanen, Green is projected to begin the season on a third pairing with Dmitry Orlov. And then there is the issue of Green’s health. Even after nine seasons he puts himself in vulnerable positions behind his own net and has become a target of forechecking teams intent on finishing every check on him. As a result, Green has played in more than 70 games just once in his career and has missed 118 games the past four seasons. Between his inability to stay in the lineup and the different direction he has been given under head coaches Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates, Green’s play has been all over the map the past three seasons. Last year he finished in a tie with Nicklas Backtrom with 27 minor penalties, a strong indication of poor positional play. Entering the final year of a three-year, $18.25 million contract, Green is most definitely at a crossroads in his career and, barring a return to dominance, could be facing his final season in D.C.