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Washington Capitals in tough spot with Mike Ribeiro contract

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Mike Ribeiro has been the Washington Capitals’ best forward this season, which means his trade value as an unrestricted free agent next summer couldn’t be higher - but neither is the creeping desire to keep him with Washington next season.

Ribeiro is coming off a 5-year deal he signed with the Dallas Stars, and told the Washington Post that he wants that term in his next contract. From the Post:

He is open to the idea of re-signing in Washington, but he’s looking for a five-year deal that would offer stability for him and his family.

[Also: Penguins paid dearly for run-down version of Brenden Morrow – and it's the right move]

“I don’t want to move too much. If you can agree to a long term then I’ll be more than happy to stay here. I don’t know if I’m looking for two years and then change place then another two years. I don’t think I want that,” Ribeiro said. “Five years for me is long term. Two, three years I don’t think is long term. I think two, three short term. Four, five, six [is] long term and 10 years like Ovi, that’s a marriage thing.”

So should the Capitals go long with Ribeiro?

The first question, obviously, is at what cost? The Post believes he can get $6 million annually on the open market, and that’s not implausible given the season he’s had. Would he give a “hometown” discount to the Capitals, if in fact he’s digging his current situation? (And don’t discount having Adam Oates as a head coach as a notch in the positive column.)

The Caps have tried to talk contract with Ribeiro, so obviously they’re not scared off by the idea he’s singing for his supper – Ribeiro’s been over a point-per-game in the NHL twice, both in contract years. But five years for a 33-year-old center, on a team that has its share of long-term deals?

You’re either solving your problem at center for the next five years with Ribeiro and Backstrom, or hitching your wagon to a player who might be in statistic decline by Year 3 of the deal.

Tough call for the Capitals, with the trade deadline looming next week and Ribeiro’s value palpable given the limited options at center. I'd take a pass unless he wanted to stay for three years. What will the Capitals do?

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