As the minor league off season soldiers on, the Barons received an unexpected bit of news this week. Signed to a one-way, one-year, AHL contract, Josh Green returns to Oklahoma City for another season. On his second tour of duty with the Oilers (the first being from 2000-2003), Green played a vital role as the top centerman for the teams farm club in Oklahoma City. 51 games, 16 goals, and 21 assists later, the team surged all the way to the Western Finals of the Calder Cup. Throw in 7 games, 1 goal, and 1 assist at the NHL level, and you have a very nice season for the 34 year old from Camrose. And for the Oilers they accomplished their mission of aiding their farm team, and simultaneously having a pretty good centerman to recall if needed. However, with this most recent contract, Green’srole is slightly different, albeit equally as important.
Josh Green is a seasoned vet of six different leagues at various levels. In those leagues he’s been to the post season 12 times, most recently a deep run in the AHL with the Barons. He’s still sturdy. Still quietly aggressive. He’s cool under pressure. Easy going on the ice, off the ice and with the fans. Green is a fantastic asset to any minor league team. And apparently he feels the same way.
The Oilers have passed on the mid-30’s centerman for the second time. Despite his postseason help during the Edmonton Stanley Cup run of 2001, and his most recent leadership of a young Barons squad – the Oilers just couldn’t find contract space nor any other reason to keep Green around much longer. Thus comes the OKC contract negotiation that Josh himself had hinted at on twitter for weeks.
For the Oilers, they earn a solid helper in the minors to aid the youngsters who’ll end up in Edmonton. Through his leadership on and off the ice, he can become the voice of reason and stability – a role held by Bryan Helmer the past two seasons. The difference between Green and Helmer is that the former knows what it is like to be an Oiler. Having seen the organization at its best and its worst, he has a keen eye for steering a young ship. And the Oilers didn’t have to spend a contract on him to get this in exchange. Well done.
For the Barons, a return to solid play on the top and the promise of having Green for the entire season is a win-win. We all wondered whom the resident vet scorer might be this season, and for now that nomenclature goes to Josh Green. He’ll likely center a strong top scoring line alongside Dane Byers, Magnus Paajarvi, or Tyler Pitlick. And, assuming his play holds up, he’ll make those individual’s better along the way. It also is the birth of something new for the farm team in OKC – their ability to attract players. Josh settled for an AHL contract after getting a two way deal the year prior. There’s something pride inducing for fans when they realize players genuinely love their cities of hire.
For Josh Green, at age 34 he’s at a point in his career where he still has a lot to give, but fully realizes that may mean fewer NHL games. And that’s not a bad thing. With a young family in tow, Green will make top AHL money for the years duration. Although the callups to Edmonton garnished a nice wage increase per game, over the arc of the upcoming AHL season, earning roughly 300,000ish is a nice thing to look forward to (he made $200,000/$575,000 last year). Is he done with NHL contracts? Probably not. Does he have an opportunity to be a really good AHL player for years to come? Absolutely. Green made a great decision.
The return is great for everyone involved. Fans are happy. Coaches are happy. Management is happy. At least for now. It’s a rarity in the sports world where those three things happen at once, and in this moment we will relish. Welcome back Josh Green.