PITTSBURGH — It's been the biggest lineup hole for the Washington Capitals on an annual basis: Second-line center, an offensive force to play behind Nicklas Backstrom.
They've tried young players that couldn't win the job. They've tried veteran stop-gaps like Brendan Morrison. But at the NHL Draft on Friday night, GM George McPhee tried a bold move to address the problem: Trading for center Mike Ribeiro of the Dallas Stars.
Dallas acquired Cody Eakin and the 54th pick, which was previously owned by the Boston Bruins, in exchange for Ribeiro, who is 32 and has one year left on his deal, carrying a $5 million cap hit.
Ribeiro, 32, ranked tied for second on Dallas with 63 points (18 goals, 45 assists) in 74 games during the 2011-12 season. His 45 assists ranked tied for first on the Stars while his 18 goals ranked fourth. Last season marked the eighth-consecutive season in which Ribeiro has tallied 50 or more points. The Montreal native has recorded 50 or more assists three times in his career and has collected 60 or more points five times in his 12-year career.
The 6'0", 177-pound center spent the last six seasons with Dallas and appeared in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. Ribeiro has collected 560 points (173 goals, 387 assists) in 737 career NHL games with Dallas and Montreal. In 42 career playoff games Ribeiro has recorded 25 points (five goals, 20 assists).
If he's not the solution, he's the best attempt at one the Capitals have made. As Steve Whyno notes, it also allow the Capitals to free up Brooks Laich to take a shutdown role or flip to the wing.
If nothing else, Alex Ovechkin is happy: