Photo: Phoenix Coyotes

George McPhee let Mike Ribeiro walk after a one season with the Capitals. Based mostly on his power-play work, Ribeiro signed a lucrative deal with the Coyotes. He was promptly bought out for poor on-ice performance and poorer off-ice behavior.

Now, on a reclamation deal with the Nashville Predators, Ribeiro is doing pretty darn well.

None of that has anything to do with this startlingly antagonistic interview Ribeiro granted to Canadian francophone newspaper La Presse. Speaking with Mathias Brunet, Ribeiro shared some Milbury-esque and McGuirean opinions about his former team.

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To All the Caps I’ve Loved Before


There’s really no need to read this piece. Your life will be no better for having read what’s below. Your life might actually get worse. You should probably stop right now.

(Last chance.)

So the Caps have freed some players over the last few years, and it feels like all of them have turned into beautiful hockey butterflies. The team had good reasons to trade or release some guys; others… not so much. In this still very young season, those hockey butterflies are playing so good it’s like they’re trying to make you jealous. Well, it’s not going to work, hockey butterflies.

Okay, yeah, it is.

I’m gonna take a peek around the league, in a totally non-Facebook-stalker-y way, just to see how certain ex-Caps forwards are doing in their new homes. Pretty freaking well, it turns out. Starting with prospect-bust-turned-Calder-standout Filip Forsberg, lemme run down who has moved on and how they’re doing.

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Matt Niskanen: A Case Study in Context


Matt Niskanen, late of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is one of the marquee defensemen expected to go to free agency tomorrow. New Caps beat writer Alex Prewitt covered the buzz around Niskanen in the Post this morning.

A move to Washington would keep Niskanen with his old defensive coach, Todd Reirden, who coached the blueliner in Pittsburgh and can speak knowledgeably about the player to the Caps front office. And at a glance, Niskanen looks like a very strong player.

Let’s check out ExtraSkater.com, which is the best site on the internet next to the Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator. Last year with Pittsburgh, Niskanen saw 53.4 percent of shot attempts belong to his team during 5v5– a number 7.3 percent better than when he was off the ice. In 2012-13, he had a 51.2 percent shot-attempt percentage, a 3.6 percent improvement compared to when he was on the bench.

That looks fantastic, but hold on a second.

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Caps Back to Early Playoff Exit Status with Grabovski Signing

On Friday we posted an article in which we mistook a fake twitter account as genuine. I say that to make clear that we at RMNB make mistakes all the time. So when I go medieval on this article below, please know I do it with a degree of self-awareness.

On Sunday morning,  The Hockey Writers published an article about the Caps by Tim Bourcier. Titled “Caps Back to Early Playoff Exit Status with Grabovski Signing”, the article contains some of the most worrying hockey writing I’ve read this year. Normally I’d just ignore something like this and starve it of pageviews, but this example is egregious. Every once in a while, we should give voice to the debate so that we might shout down the trolls all the louder.

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Grabovski > Ribeiro is the Hill I Will Die On


Since Thursday, our comments and Facebook page have sort of been railroaded by Ribeiro loyalists. These folks have been saying that Mike Ribeiro is the superior player compared to Mikhail Grabovski. I’m gonna let two guys in particular have the floor for a moment, and then I’m gonna be a jerk and tell them why they’re wrong.

Alex: This is ridiculous. Grabovski didn’t do anything for the Leafs last year. How can you possibly compare Grabovski to Ribero? It’s a good signing for the caps, but he does not replace Ribero at all.

Nick: Yeah, Ribeiro knows some crazy [fecal expletive] with the puck. Grabovski has potential, but he seemed pretty much worse than useless last season.

Nick: I prefer to look at real stats. You know, goals, assists, PPG? As opposed to teammate-played-better-assists. tl;dr Objectivity over subjectivity.

Alex: Grabovski can’t even replace Ribeiro, let alone be an improvement. Nick’s right; you cant judge two players by some [fecal expletive] stats. The only stats that matter are the real ones. The other stats are just a replacement for not actually watching the guy play.

Nick: You can say that Grabo was playing with terrible linemates, or that Ribeiro had more favorable ice time, or whatever. The fact still remains that Ribs has produced way better. [. . .] Plus Ribeiro is just jokes to watch [. . .] Anyway, Grabovski will do well, good signing, but I can’t see this is an upgrade.

(Comments were edited for clarity, brevity, and profanity.)

So the argument goes like this: Grabovski didn’t help the Leafs in 2012-13. Ribeiro had more goals and assists, which are better indications of how those players will produce in the future anyway.

And also Ribeiro is something called “jokes”, which is apparently good.

Okay, my turn.

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…He’s an improvement. A big one.

They’re both presumptive second-line centers in UFA status, but George McPhee upgraded big-time when he signed Mikhail Grabovski to take over Mike Ribeiro‘s spot. “Grabovski is not as good as Ribeiro as a point-producer or set-up man for his wingers”, said Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, “but he is a better two-way player.” That’s technically correct, but it overestimates Mike Ribeiro’s impact on production and underestimates how Grabovski makes his teammates better.

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Say sayonara to the swag. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Renaud Lavoie of RDS broke the news Sunday night that the Capitals will allow Mike Ribeiro to go to the open market on July 5. No deal will be struck with DC’s second line center, and that’s a smart move by the Capitals front office. Not as smart as trading his rights away — like they did with Semyon Varlamov, a trade for a pick that eventually turned into Martin Erat— but it’s still pretty nice.

Not everyone will agree with that. A big chunk of RMNB readers have been clamoring for a new deal for Ribeiro ever since the trade deadline, and Yahoo Sports’ Harrison Mooney’s takeaway from Chuck Gormley’s profile of possible replacements was that Capitals really should have re-signed him. But to keep Ribeiro in Washington would have been to violate one of Ted Leonsis’ own rules for smart management:

“Signing long-term, expensive deals for vets is very risky.”

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Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechte

Ian and I don’t feel particularly strong about the idea of signing compliance-buyout victim Vincent Lecavalier to the Capitals, but some of you guys apparently do. RMNB is a community, not just a few dudes shouting their opinions at you, so we’re turning the site over to you to make the case why Tampa Bay’s veteran center should come to DC.

For the record, Tampa GM Stevie Y bought out Lecavalier’s $7.7M per year contract, which had 7 more years on it. Vinny is 33 years old, a captain, a former Cup-winner, and a reliable .5 goal per game scorer. Pierre LeBrun reported that Lecavalier met with representatives from the Capitals on Saturday.

Many of you tied your argument for Lecavalier to the assumption that Mike Ribeiro will not be back next season. Some made the point that re-signing Ribeiro is a priority as well, and while I strongly disagree with that, we’ll talk more about that later. For now, the site is yours.

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Ribs salutes the fans after his overtime goal in game five. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

For perhaps the final time in DC, Mike Ribeiro is street. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

For perhaps the final time in DC, Mike Ribeiro is #swag. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals have been searching for a second-line center for years. Last summer, they finally got one. In a shortened season with the Caps, Mike Ribeiro was excellent — even when his team wasn’t. He anchored Washington’s power play, turning Alex Ovechkin — a guy the Caps have invested $123 million in — into a lethal threat.  He stabilized the top six. He led the league in points on the man advantage, a huge source of the team’s scoring. He will soon be a free agent. The captain wants him back, though, and so does the coach.

“The most important thing is to re-sign Ribs,” Ovechkin told Slava Malamud. “It will be tough without him.”

“You all saw how valuable he was to our team,” Adam Oates added. “Hopefully the parties will work it out because we love him.”

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Game five of the Capitals-Rangers series was just as taut as the preceding four, but the Caps seemed to have the upper hand from the second period on. Still, it took until overtime for the game to be decided– and by none other than the Caps’ much-maligned bad boy, Mike Ribeiro.

Often known as a hot-head weak on the faceoff dot and prone to bad penalties, Ribeiro was the opposite of that on Friday night. Ribeiro won 70% of his faceoffs– many of them crucial defensive-zone draws– and drove play better than any other Caps forward. His pestering of Brian Boyle drew the penalty that led to Joel Ward’s tying goal, and his relentless occupation of Lundqvist’s net led to a pivotal game-winner.

You wanted CRASH THE NET? I give you MIKE RIBEIRO.

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