Photo credit: Scott Levy
Mike Ribeiro is a hot topic surrounding the Washington Capitals lately — not just because he’s been the team’s best player. Instead, Ribs is looking for a five-year deal in a market where free-agent forwards get big money, even with the salary cap decreasing by $6 million next year (from $70.2 million to $64.4 million).
Ribeiro is 33-years-old and is on the last year of a five-year, $25 million dollar deal. His next contract will certainly be the last big one of his career, and he wants his family to have a good, stable home. We shouldn’t expect his production (11 goals, 35 points in 33 games this season) to stay this way as his enters the latter part of career. On the other hand, however, the Caps haven’t a quality second-line center in years.
Within the next few games, the Caps may figure out if they want to– or even are able to– re-sign Ribeiro for a price that’s reasonable. Ribeiro told me he would have discussions with the team about a new contract before the trade deadline on April 3. Presumably, if his demands are too high for Washington, they may trade him.
“If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen,” Ribeiro said of a possible extension in Washington. “We’ll talk, obviously, before trade deadline and see where they’re at, where I’m at. We’ll go from there.”
Other than re-signing him or dealing him, there is a third option: letting him play out his deal in Washington before Ribeiro goes to the open market. That would be the worst-case scenario — especially if the Caps miss the playoffs with no prospect or picks gained along the way. Preferably, Washington would sign Ribeiro to an affordable deal. But considering the massive contracts Alex Semin, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf have gotten recently, that might not be possible. Capitals General Manager George McPhee will have to decide which side he’s on soon.
On Tuesday, Ribeiro continued to increase his value, adding his 11th goal of the season. Halfway through the game, he unleashed a sizzling wrist shot past Islanders goalie Evgeny Nabokov. As with many of Ribeiro’s plays, it was a demonstration of pure skill.
“I’m not worried about it and I just want to win games,” Ribeiro said after Washington’s 3-2 loss. “When the time comes, if there’s a deal to be made it will be made.”