Mike Ribeiro, coveted free agent, wants long-term deal over money

ARLINGTON, Va. – According to CapGeek, Mike Ribeiro is the top unrestricted free agent available this summer, after a season that saw the center score 49 points in 48 games for the Washington Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin said the team’s top priority is bringing Ribeiro back. Which is what you’d expect from a player who resurrected his game on the power play, speaking about a center that had 27 points on the man advantage.

“To hear it from him is nice,” said Ribeiro.

“He’s a powerful player. He can score. He’s a young player [who can still] learn a lot about the game, and how to play it.”

Ribeiro's previous contract was 5 years and $25 million. He made it clear on Tuesday that he’s seeking a four or five-year contract this summer, and that the term outweighs the money as far as importance to him. If Washington meets that term, he’d like to stay in DC.

“If I can stay in the city and retire here. It’s more about the kids. If I could stay in the city until they go to college,” he said.

Ribeiro said he doesn’t necessarily anticipate making a decision on the Capitals before the July 5 start of free agency, and that the team would be in the mix if he does go to market.

What would keep Ribeiro in D.C. if the Capitals meet his demands?

Consistency from year to year, he said, both in the roster and in the coaching ranks.

He repeated something Coach Adam Oates said in the team’s postseason meeting: The model is the Boston Bruins, a team that was kept together through adversity before it finally broke through to win a Stanley Cup.

But for the Capitals, is Ribeiro worth a long-term deal at 33 years old?

He believes so. “I still think I can get better. I can’t see myself getting worse.”

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