Apr 5, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler (17) is checked by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene (2) and goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Greene‘s last two seasons in Los Angeles have been somewhat of a wash. After missing all but five games last season due to a back injury, and missing 21 games over the course of three months earlier this season because of injury, Greene now has been a healthy scratch 16 of the teams last 22 regular season games.
It’s fair to wonder if these are the last days in Los Angeles for the impending free agent.
Fellow blue-liner Willie Mitchell is also an impending free agent for the Kings this off-season. However, it seems more likely that Mitchell will be re-signed than Greene.
Despite Mitchell having 6 years on Greene, and being a 35+ veteran at the age of 36, Mitchell has remained healthy and has been steady for the Kings for the past few seasons. He’s also a veteran presence for the team that’s been nominated for the Masterson Trophy this season. A trophy awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. That’s a guy you want to keep in your locker room.
So with Alec Martinez‘s emergence on the blue-line, Mitchell likely being favored to re-sign for the short-term, and youngster Brayden McNabb being on the cusp of making the NHL full-time, what is to be done with Matt Greene.
The easy answer to the question is simply let Greene hit the FA market. But I think there’s more value to Greene than meets the eye.
Not only is Matt Greene one of the King’s toughest players, stubbornest penalty killers, and biggest bodies, but there’s also a premium on solid defenseman acround the league right now.
This year at the trade deadline many teams were seeking solid D-men, and not many were moved due to their scarcity. That’s why it’s essential for the Kings to capitalize on Greene’s inflated market value, and try to trade his rights before free agency opens up this summer.
Back in 2011 James Wisniewski, of the Blue Jackets, had his rights traded traded to Columbus by the Montreal Canadiens for what would become a 5th round pick. Similarly that same year, Christian Ehrhoff, of the Sabres, had his rights traded to Buffalo by the New york Islanders for a fourth round pick, after they had obtained his rights for a similar pick from the Vancouver Canucks.
Now to compare, Greene is no offensive force like Ehrhoff and Wisniewski are, but his defensive and physical prowess make him far from a worthless D-man. In this market the Kings could perhaps garner a 7th, or even 6th round, pick for him.
One possible destination could be Detroit. The Red Wings have been weak at the blue line since losing Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, and Brad Stuart. With 5 Michigan natives already on their roster, the Red Wings also love their homegrown Michigan talent, which is just where Greene happens to hail from.
However, trading his rights to Detroit in particular might be unlikely…
"(GM) Holland would not trade for his rights, but Matt Greene is interesting. He doesn’t score much which could hurt his chances, and there are 2-3 defenseman (for Detroit) who could make the jump from the AHL to NHL next season. Defense has been an issue and the Red Wings could bring in an FA though. – @OctopusThrower"
And FanSided’s Octopus Thrower isn’t wrong. The Red Wings make fewer trades than most teams.
The Red Wings aren’t the only teams desperate for defense however. Any number of teams may be willing to dish out a low pick for exclusive negotiating rights with Greene.
And even low picks can turn out to be extremely valuable. That can be seen just by looking at the Kings prospect pool and seeing top prospects like Nic Dowd, who were taken as late as the 7th round.
Greene will be expendable this summer and actually has trade value. Let’s not lose something for nothing. The Kings should trade his rights for whatever they can get come draft day.