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NHL Free Agency 2018: Is Mike Green a potential fit in Vegas?

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Green is a veteran defenseman who can play in the top four and add in the offensive zone. Would he make sense in Vegas?

NHL: Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights got the eighth-best production from their blue line, with 180 points. They can still do better, however (as everyone can). That’s where a free agent defenseman like Mike Green comes in.

Strengths

Green placed at 43 in terms of individual defensive scoring last season (with 33 points), and was tied for 42nd with eight goals.

Green has scored at least 30 points in each of the past five seasons, and has played more than 22 minutes a game the past two seasons. He is a top-four defenseman who brings a lot of scoring and a lot of shot generation. He had 132 shots last season, more than the likes of Hampus Lindholm and Dmitry Orlov, both of whom played more games than Green.

His two shots-per-game rate was quite high, even more so than players ahead of him on the shot total, including Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Nick Leddy and Ryan Suter. That’s quite excellent, and shows the level of offensive play Green brings, which could be useful from another Knights defenseman (keep in mind, however, that Green’s shot rate was lower than both Shea Theodore and Colin Miller’s).

Green has scored 10 goals or more six times in his career, including the season before this one. He has hit 30 goals before, which is seemingly impossible for a modern-day defenseman, and he’s been incredibly productive throughout his career. He has produced 100 or more shots in all but one season where he played more than 60 games. Even in the lockout-shortened season, when he played just 35 games, Green shot the puck on net 96 times.

Green had the third-best goals against per 60 on the Red Wings’ blue line (2.33) and allowed just 47 goals in 1,211 5-on-5 minutes.

Green had the best primary points per 60 of any Red Wings defenseman (with .45), and the second-best points per 60 (.79, behind Joe Hicketts, who played just five games). Green is a truly dynamic offensive presence who can play decent defense and eat a ton of minutes.

Weaknesses

Let’s start with a pretty glaring one. Every defensive partner Green had this season was worse with him than without him at 5-on-5. Looking at the main three (Niklas Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser and Xavier Ouellet), there are pretty substantial differences.

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Green Corsi % Shot Share Goal Share Scoring Chance High-Danger TOI Off. Faceoffs Def. Faceoffs Off. Faceoff %
Green Corsi % Shot Share Goal Share Scoring Chance High-Danger TOI Off. Faceoffs Def. Faceoffs Off. Faceoff %
Kronwall with Green 47.58 48.96 47.06 48.17 51.88 502:54:00 224 115 66
without Green 50.2 50.97 43.48 50.27 50 700:15:00 236 146 61.7
DeKeyser with Green 48.82 47.88 42.86 46.02 43.51 393:54:00 133 158 45.7
without Green 49.58 48.52 53.57 49.57 50.22 731:12:00 197 244 44.7
Ouellet with Green 47.92 52.46 69.23 40.43 38.98 172:00:00 47 64 42.3
without Green 52.16 50.39 37.5 51.06 49.19 380:30:00 108 98 52.4

Considering Green’s individual on-ice stats, those changes make sense. Green had a 47.83 percent Corsi (17 on the Red Wings roster), 48.64 percent shot share (13), 46.59 percent goal share (13), 45 percent scoring chance share (18) and 44.47 percent high danger share (21). That’s despite a 54.4 percent offensive zone start rate at 5-on-5.

Green is not a consistent defensive presence and can often get lost in his own zone. Those possession numbers reflect that, and when he doesn’t have a competent partner to bail him out in terms of defensive chances allowed (including high-danger chances), the puck finds its way into the net. Even with competent partners, the puck goes in more often than it should.

The fact that he’s also a negative possession presence, even with offensive zone starts, is a pretty bad factor as well. Especially when he’s supposed to drive play as an offensive defenseman.

Fit with the Golden Knights

For those still on board with signing Green, his fit would also present a problem. Yes, he does create a lot of opportunities from the blue line and has great shot generation, but again, Theodore and Miller are both better at what he does. Green would be the third-best offensive defenseman on the roster, which means third pairing minutes.

Green is also not quite as speedy as would be wanted from a defenseman on the Knights’ blue line, and not nearly as good at chipping in defensively. When looking at statistics, where he would play in the lineup and his role, it’s hard to pinpoint a fit for the veteran defender.