#2 / Defense / Los Angeles Kings
2013 Cap Hit: $2,950,000
When you're talking about strengths of Matt Greene, you're talking quite literally about strength. At 6'3", 234 Greene is a monster of a man who enjoys throwing his significant size at opponents every chance he gets. Greene's game is all about sandpaper. He plays offense essentially to keep the puck in at the blueline and maybe hit somebody if he can. Greene has earned a reputation as a true warrior in the game, a hard-working blue collar guy who overcomes his hockey weaknesses with raw effort and a non-stop motor. Despite his role on the LA blueline being significantly reduced this past season, Greene still managed to excel on the PK, where he finished 3rd on the team in SH TOI/G at 2:41 per game. His respect in the locker room is represented by the A he wears on his chest along with superstar Anze Kopitar. Greene's ability to play sound positional as well as physical defense makes him the classic stay-at-home defenseman who won't do anything spectacular to wow you but he will make life for opposing players a living hell. He does a fine job of clearing pucks and making outlet passes, though neither skill is ever going to cause any sort of excitement. Safe, sound, and reliable is the true nature of Matt Greene's game.
With a career high of 14 points, Greene is clearly not a guy you sign for his offensive prowess. His puck-handling is nothing special and he will turn the disc over on occasion. His 47 PIMs in 38 games brings back less-than-fond memories of the immaculate Shane O'Brien, whose insistence on taking stupid, tough guy penalties will forever be the stuff of legend in my hockey-watching life. 15 minor penalties in 38 GP puts him on an 82-game pace of 32, which would have been good for 6th in the NHL (tied with Drew Doughty and one spot behind none other than Kyle Quincey!) and certainly isn't the kind of top 10 you ever want to find yourself a part of. Defensively, Greene also struggles mightily with quicker players. His average skating and poor footwork overall really hold him back from elevating his game to something special. At 31 already, his game is certainly not looking to improve any from here and his already slow skating is only going to get worse in the coming years.
Signed way back in 2009 when he was with the Edmonton Oilers, Greene is just now finishing off a 5-year, $14.75M contract that was a relative bargain even back then when the cap came in right under $57 million. Already on the wrong side of 30 and his limitations very much exposed, Green shouldn't be expecting to take a significant pay cut moving forward (his cap hit this previous season was $2.9M but his actual salary was $3.25M. I think this range for a proven leader and a guy described by everyone as a warrior of the game remains appropriate. I think the deal Jan Hejda signed with the Avs, 4-years, $13M would be fair to all parties involved.
Why It Works:
The Avs could really use a guy like Matt Greene. He's the type of physical force this defense hasn't really had a lot of in recent years and you can never have too many guys on a team with a great work ethic and great leadership skills. The Avs have made character a huge priority in recent years and bringing Greene in would certainly continue that concept. As always, him being a righty would seem to carry the additional benefit of pushing Nate Guenin out of the lineup, something I very much look forward to (can you tell?). His championship experience with the Kings these past few seasons would only serve as a positive for the young Avalanche as they look to make the postseason their habitual stomping grounds.
I'm all about it. Greene is who he is at this point and there's nothing sexy about his game. He's a wily veteran with a lot to offer a team, especially one with so many young defenders either already on the roster or coming up in the system. His leadership would be a boon to the organization and he's certainly not a guy I would classify as a character risk, something we're all keenly aware of right now with the Ryan O'Reilly proceedings. He's not anything more than a 3rd pairing guy, so as long as the Avs lay it out for him what their expectations are I think this makes for a fine pairing. The Avs already did this deal 3 years ago when they brought Hejda in and while he's been overextended in terms of his role versus his talent, the Avs are in a much better place to make a more appropriate use of Greene and his skillset. Thumbs up!