Move Will Lead to a Green Spring in Hershey
I haven’t talked to anyone in authority about today’s re-assignment of defenseman Mike Green to Hershey of the AHL, but it doesn’t look like a very complicated move on the surface.
With Brian Pothier coming off injured reserve, and John Erskine about to come off injured reserve, and Bryan Muir hopefully getting closer to coming off injured reserve, the Caps would suddenly have a large number (10) of defensemen. Since neither Erskine nor Muir has officially come off IR yet, and since Green headed for Hershey today, the actual number of healthy defensemen on the Caps’ roster is seven. Given that the Caps are currently carrying a pair of spare forwards (Kris Beech and Ben Clymer, tonight) any number greater than seven would be an unwieldly number of defensemen right now.
But why Green? To put it simply (and perhaps cruelly), because they could. Of the 10 Washington defensemen, Green and Jeff Schultz are the only two who can be sent to Hershey without first having to clear waivers. Schultz has played so well of late that it would be even more cruel to send him out at the moment. When Erskine and/or Muir returns, the Caps may have to send Schultz to Hershey anyway.
There is likely also be an ulterior motive to today’s Green move. The Hershey Bears are again among the top teams in the AHL, and they’re hopeful of defending their 2006 Calder Cup championship. The two best defensemen on that 2006 Bears team were arguably Green and Lawrence Nycholat. Nycholat is currently Washington’s seventh defenseman. The Bears would love to have him, but he would need to clear waivers to be successfully reassigned and that would never happen. So Nycholat stays in Washington, and Green goes to Hershey for the short term.
Green needs to stay in Hershey only until Feb. 27 in order to qualify for the Bears’ postseason roster. There is no games played requirement; the only requirement for Calder Cup playoff eligibility is that the player must be on the AHL team’s roster on Feb. 27. So it’s really win-win-win. Green gets a handful of games with Hershey, games in which he can play 30 minutes or so and play in all situations. The Caps get some temporary roster relief, and one of their prospects gets a quick confidence boost. The Bears get a player who can serve as their No. 1 defenseman and power play quarterback throughout the playoffs.
A lot can happen in a period of two weeks, especially when the NHL’s trade deadline is at the end of those two weeks. Green is likely in Hershey only as a quick-fix to Washington’s roster issues, and to establish his Calder Cup playoff eligibility. He’ll be back.