By: Will Burchfield
If the lack of demand for Mike Green at the trade deadline wasn’t clear after Ken Holland addressed the media Monday evening, consider this: Holland was prepared to deal Green without any guarantee of a return and he was willing to retain 50 percent of the defenseman’s salary, the maximum amount allowed under the CBA. And there still weren’t any takers.
So, no, this wasn’t a situation where Holland held out for a better offer and wound up with nothing.
There was nothing on the table, Holland said, because teams couldn’t justify acquiring the injured Green without knowing when, and for how long, he’d be able to play. Green has been sidelined for the past six games with a nagging neck injury.
Holland said the biggest sticking point was Green’s prorated $1.46 million cap hit for the remainder of the season, which amounts to $730,000 at 50 percent. That’s a hefty price to pay for a player who might be compromised — or unavailable — down the stretch.
“To tell you the honest truth, I was prepared to take nothing in return, nothing in the sense that it would start out at nothing and (it would increase) based upon team performance, based upon his health, games played,” Holland told 97.1 The Ticket. “I was open to negotiating all that so that the compensation risk was on the Detroit Red Wings.
“Certainly we were prepared to retain 50 percent of the salary, but ultimately when you’re trying to compete for a Stanley Cup and there’s other players on the marketplace that are healthy, nobody really wanted to acquire a player that at this stage of the game was injured.”
The Red Wings wanted to structure a similar trade to the one they drew up in regard to Petr Mrazek, whereby Green’s performance would determine the extent of the return, but the handful of teams in on the All-Star defenseman got cold feet as he continued to miss games in advance of the deadline. Then Erik Karlsson and Ryan McDonagh landed on the market, and interest in Green waned further.
Green was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for both the Lightning and the Capitals. Tampa landed McDonagh in a last-minute blockbuster with Rangers, while Washington was engaged in discussions with the Senators about Karlsson right down to the wire. It’s unclear if any other teams had legitimate interest in Green.
“There were some teams that he would prefer to go to and some teams that he would prefer not to go to, but we never got to that point in time,” Holland said. “The teams that had the most interest, he gave me the green light that he was prepared to go there, so the no-trade had nothing to do with the ultimate outcome of the Mike Green situation.”
Green, a pending unrestricted free agent, said on Tuesday morning he was prepared for anything. With six goals and 29 points in 56 games, the smooth-skating defenseman was considered one of the top rentals on the market before his injury.
“My mind frame was always here in Detroit. Obviously with the speculation and talk and the situation I was in, anything could’ve happened, but I’m still happy to be here,” he said.
“Like I said before this is all came about, I love it here. My focus is still here and always has been,” he added.
The 32-year-old Green hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs in his 13-year career. When Holland approached him about 10 days ago about the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause, Green was open to the idea.
“He would have loved to have the opportunity go to a team that had a real chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Holland said.
Said Green, “Obviously you have it in the back of your mind. Any player wants to play come April, May, June. That’s the goal for everybody. Weighed the options and this is how it panned out.”
The Red Wings have expressed interest in re-signing Green this summer. His third season has been his best in Detroit, and he’s become a great example for the team’s younger defenseman. For the right price — certainly lower than his current $6 million cap hit — the Wings would like to keep him around. Green confirmed Holland has approached him about this possibility.
“We’ve had discussions, yeah. Obviously the situation’s been a little strange, but we’ll have discussions and I hope we have more discussions,” Green said.
Asked if the Wings keeping him past the deadline increases his odds of re-signing this summer, Green said, “I don’t know. Obviously we’ll see how things kind of take place over the next six months. Right now I’m just focused on getting back out on the ice and in games and playing hockey.”
Green said he hopes to return this weekend. The Red Wings, currently seven points out of the second wild card spot in the East, play at Winnipeg on Friday and at Minnesota on Sunday.