GREEN IS THE COLOR OF THE DAY IN WASHINGTON

Today, the Washington Capitals announced that they have come to terms with one of the corner stones of the franchise since the Capitals began their current run of success back in 2007. The team announced that they have re-signed defenseman Mike Green to a three-year, $18.25 million contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced.

Green will earn $6 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and $6.25 million in 2014-15.

“We are pleased to re-sign Mike Green to a new contract,” said McPhee. “Mike is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League and is just entering his prime. He will continue to be a key part of our team moving forward.”

Green, 26, recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) and was a plus-five in 32 games with the Capitals last season. He finished the regular season ranked third on Washington in time on ice per game, skating an average of 21:02 per contest.

Green missed 47 games due to injury in 2011-12. The blueliner added two goals and two assists as well as a plus-five rating in 14 postseason games with the Capitals, ranking second in points among Washington defensemen and tied for second on the team in playoff plus/minus.

Green has collected 251 points (82 goals, 169 assists) and a plus-62 rating in 398 career NHL games, all with Washington. He is one of just two active defensemen (Erik Karlsson) in the league to have registered a 70-point season and is the only active defenseman to have recorded two seasons of 70 points or more.

Since the 2007-08 season, Green ranks fourth among NHL defenseman in points (236), second in goals (79) and his 0.77 points per game lead the league. The 6’1”, 207-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, is a two-time member of the NHL First All-Star Team and is a two-time Norris Trophy runner up.

Originally drafted by Washington in the first round (29th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Green ranks seventh all-time in points by a Capitals defenseman and sixth in goals. His six overtime goals rank second all-time in Capitals history behind only Alex Ovechkin (12) and his plus-62 rating ranks tied for 12th.

He is one of only three Capitals blueliners to have recorded 70 or more points in a single season (Larry Murphy, Kevin Hatcher and Scott Stevens) and one of just two defensemen to score 30 or more goals in a single season (Hatcher).

No.52 was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 2010-11 and was a finalist in back-to-back years (2010 and 2011) for the NHL Foundation Player Award, which is given to the player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.

This is a deal that works for both sides in terms of dollars and length. It is obvious the Capitals were not willing to commit to Green for more than three years, and who could blame them. Green has played in 82 games just once in his career.

He is not durable, and not to knock the Caps best scoring defenseman, but he is not that tough. However, he is paid, and despite playing in just half of the Caps  regular season games over the previous two seasons, Green now has the pressure of playing up to (or at least playing)a high dollar contract.

Green has suffered from a bevy of injuries. He’s had a shoulder problem, concussions, ankle problem and lingering groin strain, which required surgery this past season. Green has played in 224 of a possible 328 games (68 percent) since the end of the 08 season.

Green’s signing comes after he initially rejected the Capitals qualifying offer, and following the conclusion of this past season, many wondered if Green fit in the Caps plans at all. This deal proves he indeed does fit, at least for the next three years.

2012 OFF-SEASON UPDATE:

Aside from hiring Adam Oates on the same day he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Washington Capitals have not made the splash during this off-season that they did last summer. But that does not mean they have not improved their team and aren’t one of the favorites once again in the Eastern Conference.

General Manager George McPhee has spent his summer filling in much needed pieces of a franchise Stanley Cup-less puzzle. GMGM has been quite effective and methodical in his approach compared to last off-season.

The Capitals were major players once the July 1 clock struck last summer. Washington inked what was considered one of the best up and coming forwards on the market by admittedly overpaying for Nashville's playoff hero in 2011, Joel Ward. They traded their No.1a goalie, and signed Roman Hamrlik, and Jeff Halpern. To close out the first weekend of free agency last summer, McPhee stole what many considered one of the two best goalies when Washington signed Tomas Vokoun to a bargain basement $1.5 million contract.  

Hamrlik and Ward had the worst offensive years of their careers, a span of 19-seasons for the “Hammer”. Jeff Halpern is now a Ranger, and Tomas Vokoun will back up a wilting “Flower” in Pittsburgh nest season.

McPhee’s approach this off-season has been methodical and concise, and it all began with the draft. With11 selections in Junes entry draft, the most of any NHL team this season, the Capitals filled holes, stole a falling Swede, and came out a better organization than when they entered the CONSOL Energy Center for 2012 NHL Draft.

With the pick they acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the Semyon Varlamov trade, the Capitals drafted Filip Forsberg with the No.11 overall selection and signed him to an entry-level contract this past Friday.

Forsberg will earn $832,500 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level.

Forsberg, 17 was listed as the top-ranked European skater heading into the draft according to NHL Central Scouting. Forsberg was the youngest player on Team Sweden at the 2012 World Junior Championships, helping his team capture their first World Junior gold medal since 1981 by recording one assist in six tournament games. The Ostervala, Sweden, native collected 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 43 games with Leksand in the second division of Sweden’s senior league in 2011-12. Forsberg also captained Sweden to a silver medal in the 2012 World Under-18 Junior Championships, registering five goals and two assists in six games while being named the tournament’s best forward.

The 6’2”, 181-pound center won a silver medal at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships, recording six points (four goals, two assists) in six games, and at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial collecting five points (four goals, one assist) in six games

Caps fans will have to wait until 2013 to see the young superstar rocking the red, he has committed to play in Sweden next season.

2012 DEVELOPMENTAL CAMP

Forsberg, along with eight others Caps prospects drafted in June attended last week as Washington held their 2012 Prospect Development Camp July 9-14 at Kettler Iceplex, the training facility of the team.

Attendees include Capitals prospects that are under contract and recent Capitals draft picks who have not been signed yet. Aside from the nine draft picks mentioned above, Washington had eight other prospects from previous drafts going back to the 2008 draft (Greg Burke). In all, the Capitals had 22 prospects attend the camp.

Last year Dmitry Orlov (60 regular-season games) and Cody Eakin (30 regular-season games) both attended the camp. Similar to an NHL roster, there is some age disparity between those that attended. Recently drafted Filip Forsberg (born Aug. 13, 1994) was the youngest roster player attending camp while Cameron Schilling (born Oct. 7, 1988) the oldest.

Three Caps prospects that attended camp, all 2012 draftees, were teammates during the 2011-12 season. Riley Barber, Connor Carrick and Thomas Di Pauli played together on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program last season in the United States Hockey League. In addition, several camp participants were teammates last season or will be teammates in the upcoming year.

If you are interested IN watching a video from the days final scrimmage, you can simply click here. You can also read a camp diary written by two Capitals prospects by clicking on their name below.

Cam Schilling was one of the most sought-after college free agents last season before being signed by Washington in March after completing his senior season with Miami University (Ohio). He appeared in seven regular-season games with Hershey before scoring two goals in four AHL playoff games.

Tom Wilson was the Caps’ second selection in the first round of the 2012 draft. A physical presence, Wilson led the Plymouth Whalers in penalty minutes (141) and was a member of the CHL's Top Prospect game during the 2011-12 season

OTHER OFF-SEASON ACQUISITIONS:

The Capitals biggest need heading into this off-season was to secure a quality second line center. GMGM believes the Capitals did that when they acquired center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in exchange for center Cody Eakin and a second-round draft pick (54th overall) in June’s NHL Draft. Ribeiro, 32, ranked tied for second on Dallas with 63 points (18 goals, 45 assists) in 74 games during the 2011-12 season. His 45 assists ranked tied for first on the Stars while his 18 goals ranked fourth. Last season marked the eighth-consecutive season in which Ribeiro has tallied 50 or more points. The Montreal native has recorded 50 or more assists three times in his career and has collected 60 or more points five times in his 12-year career.

Ribeiro is a veteran playmaker the organization has lacked for the past three years. For the past three seasons, the Caps tried to fill the hole as Brooks Laich, Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson, Tomas Fleischmann, Brendan Morrison and Jason Arnott all auditioned for the job. While some had their moments, none were consistent enough to allow McPhee the freedom to say he was comfortable without making a deal.  The absence of a true offensive center was never more glaring than when Nicklas Backstrom missed 40 games last season with a concussion.

Ribeiro will create options for the rest of Washington’s forward configurations as well, particularly with players such as Laich, a versatile, two-way forward who can play center or wing but fits well in a shut-down role, and Johansson, who has shown to be comfortable on the wing.

Not only did the Capitals become a more skilled team, but they also became deeper when they signed free agent right wing Joey Crabb.

Crabb, 29, recorded career highs in goals (11), assists (15), points (26) and games played (67) last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished the season ranked 11th on Toronto in points and eighth in goals while his plus-one rating finished tied for fifth on the team. Crabb tallied four game-winning goals in 2011-12, tied for the second most among all Maple Leaf players, and his two shorthanded goals tied for the team lead.

He averaged 1:34 of penalty kill time on ice per game, the third most among all Maple Leaf forwards (minimum 40 games). In addition, Crabb registered 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in nine games with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League (AHL) last season and recorded three assists in eight games with the United States at the 2012 World Championships.

Aside from the Green signing today, Washington also re-signed Matthieu Perreault and Jay Beagle to extensions. Perreault, 24, set career highs in goals (16), assists (14), points (30), games played (64) and plus/minus (+9) in 2011-12. He finished first on Washington in shooting percentage (26.7%) and tied for fourth on the team with four game-winning goals. His 30 points ranked 10th on the team while he finished tied for fifth in goals and tied for fourth in plus/minus.

Beagle, 26, set career highs in goals (4), points (5), games played (41) and penalty minutes (23) last season. He finished the season ranked second on Washington in face-off percentage (57.7%) and recorded 66 hits and 23 blocked shots during the regular season. Beagle tallied his first career playoff goal and assist and finished sixth among forwards in average ice time per game (18:25) during the postseason, compared to his 11:51 per-game ice time during the regular season. He tied for sixth on the team in hits (25) and ranked second among Capitals forwards in shorthanded ice time per game (2:42) during the postseason.

Below are the names and links to the rest of Washington’s activity this off-season. Conspicuously absent from any teams roster is Alexander Semin.

SEMIN STILL LOOKING FOR A HOME:

Many believed the second tier free agents, like Semin, would soon find a roster spot once the two top prizes in this year’s market signed with a new team. However, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both agreed to 13-year $98 million contracts with the Minnesota Wild back on July 4, and Semin remains homeless.

Many teams may share the thoughts of TSN analysts Marc Crawford and Pierre McGuire. TSN began their free agent coverage back on July 1 and when asked about Semin and where he would fit in, the former Stars and Avs coach, as well as McGuire, tore Semin apart.

Semin, 28, finished his career in Washington with 197 goals, fifth on the club’s all-time list behind Peter Bondra [472], Mike Gartner [397], Alex Ovechkin [339] and Mike Ridley [218].

He recorded 409 points in 469 regular games with the Caps, but just 15 goals and 34 points in 51 career playoff games. However, he was constantly called out for lazy play, and a selfish attitude. One of former Caps coach Bruce Boudreau’s final acts was to scratch Semin for a game for taking selfish and senseless minor penalties.

“This is not a great teammate, I'm telling you right now,” McGuire said. “Not a good guy to have around your group unless you have unbelievably strong leadership. He’s the ultimate coach killer, that's what he is.” Crawford joined in by saying Semin has “no character.” 

“He'll be banished to a place like Columbus or something like that, and that's what those guys do,” Crawford said. “They head to the island of misfit toys. You either take a guy who’s a complete winner, or take a guy who’s a complete loser. He falls in that category.” 

Stay tuned to Capitals Corner for all breaking Capitals news, as well as the I-295 Sports Report on Monday’s and Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. on Blog Talk Radio. The I-295 Sports Report is an unedited and raw sports talk show about what is happening in the Baltimore/Washington sports scene.

LINKS TO ARTICLES ABOUT CAPS FREE-AGENT SIGNINGS: (Click name)

GARRETT STAFFORD & KEVIN MARSHALL (07-02) RYAN STOA (7-6)

MATT CLARKSON (signed 7-14)  WOJTEK WOLSKI (signed 7-11) ZACH HAMILL (re-signed 7-11)