Washington Capitals in tough spot with Mike Ribeiro contract

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.

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“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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