That was until this season. At the 2012 NHL draft, George McPhee traded away Cody Eakin and a second round pick to the Dallas Stars for center Mike Ribeiro. He was expected to fill in the second line center position immediately, and help fill in the scoring hole that was left with the departure of Alexander Semin.
And it was quickly apparent he was worth the loss of Eakin and a pick. In his first five games, Ribeiro had five assists and one goal. He even saw some time on the first line with Ovie, and they seemed to mix well with each other. But during the Caps horrid losing streak, Backstrom, who was playing as the second line center for some time while in the lineup, was switched back up to the first line. From that point, it was obvious that Ovechkin plays better with Backstrom than he did with Ribeiro.
But Ribeiro continued to thrive while on the second line. In the month of March, where the Caps saw only one regulation loss, Ribeiro had two goals and 12 assists. And in the playoffs, it was Ribeiro who was involved with some of the most critical plays in the series with the Rangers. It was his assist that set up the Mike Green goal in overtime of game two, and it was Ribeiro’s goal in overtime of game five.
Overall, Ribeiro was second on the team in points with 49, second on the team in assists with 36, and third in goals with 13.
However, there were some points in Ribeiro’s game that were frustrating. The center was second on the team in penalty minutes with 53, which is absolutely horrible when you consider he recorded only one fighting major this year. This means that he played sloppy, played with a temper. Oh yes. Ribeiro played with quite the temper. He also won only 44.75 percent of his face offs, which must be greatly improved.
But it doesn’t end there. Ribeiro scored on 20.6 percent of the shots he took. Which is fantastic, right? Not really. It would be fantastic if he shot as much as Ovie, who ripped it 220 times this season. Or even Brouwer, who pulled the trigger 111 times. Or maybe even Jason Chimera, who fired it 92 times this year. Wait a second. I know exactly what you are thinking. Jason Chimera, who played primarily on the third line and went through a god awful dry spell took more shots than Ribeiro. The correct answer is yes. Ribeiro took exactly 63 shots this year, ranking him just above Jay Beagle. Ribeiro doesn’t shoot the puck nearly as often as he should. There were more times than one could count when he passed the puck one time too many, or wasted a perfect opportunity to get the puck on net. It became incredibly frustrating.
What to do with Michael Tavares Ribeiro is by far the Capitals biggest question this offseason. Ribeiro wants to play for DC, saying that he would like to sign a four or five year deal. He’s 33 years old, and the Capitals cap space is already tight. The point is, McPhee doesn’t want to give Ribeiro a four or five year contract. And you shouldn’t want it either. We liked the 33 year old Ribeiro, but chances are we won’t like the 38 year old Ribeiro. And at what cost? If Ribeiro enters free agency, he will be the best offensive player available. He could very well earn a $5,000,000 contract from another team. It could be even higher. The fact is, we could get a cheaper, younger center than Ribeiro. Would that player be as good as Ribeiro? Probably not. But we certainly don’t want to sign Ribeiro for that long of a contract. On top of the players that will already be made available through free agency, the two amnesty buyouts will allow relatively good players to be available. These players would already be making two-thirds of the amount of money they were originally signed for (if they are over 26 years old), and one-third if they are younger than 26. If a good player is getting bought out because his General Manager was simply too dumb to realize that the ludicrous contract was a mistake, than he would be willing to sign a contract with a team that would offer him a smaller contract because he is already making two-thirds of his original contract.
I think we can afford to let our second highest scorer walk. There are several players that could fill the void. It was nice to have Ribeiro this year. He left a lot of good memories in DC. But, sorry Ribs, we don’t need you.