The Washington Capitals will eventually have decisions to make on 11 pending free agents (seven unrestricted, four restricted), the most publicized of which involves defenseman Mike Green.
Washington's fortified defensive corps has allowed Green to flourish in less stressful on-ice environments. Simultaneously, that same stability has also made the 29-year-old a frequent subject of trade conjecture. With his three-year, $18.25 million contract set to expire this summer, the Capitals are taking a wait-and-see approach regarding potential negotiations.
"He's had a good year," general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday during a 30-minute interview with reporters. "Coming into the year, I think he had an off year last year. I think we're probably both going through an evaluation. Is he comfortable with his role and does he want to stay and play in that role? Are we comfortable with him in that role that he's playing in now? Is it going to work for us as an organization, as a team? Are we going to have success with Mike Green playing where's he playing and doing what he's doing and is that a big part of our team moving forward?
"Just as he needs to evaluate, 'Do I like this coach? Do I like this situation? Am I comfortable here?' I think we're both going through an evaluation period and we'll come to a decision at some point."
With offseason additions Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik handling tougher assignments, Green has functioned as one-half of Washington's third pairing with Nate Schmidt. He's starting significantly more shifts in the offensive zone as compared to last season (60.71 percent to 54.34) and facing the weakest competition at even strength since his 2006-07 rookie season. He has thrived so far, with 11 points and a Corsi-for percentage of 57.2.
While Green's impressive start has spurred outside demand for Green to be re-signed as soon as feasibly possible, MacLellan is cautious not to rush into anything binding.
"I think that's a key decision," MacLellan said, speaking about his general approach to handling contract talks. "I think we need to let it sort itself out, let people settle into their roles and see where we are as a team, what level we're at."
Green's representation did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
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