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Mike Ribeiro finally filled the Capitals' need for a second-line center during the 2012-13 season.
The 33-year-old veteran scored 13 goals with 36 assists for 49 points. Ribeiro was fifth in the NHL in assists, and led the NHL in power play assists (NHL.com).
However, Ribeiro was also second on the Capitals with 53 penalty minutes, 20 of which came on two misconduct penalties. Plus, he placed third with a faceoff percentage of 44.8 among the Capitals three faceoff leaders, in terms of total faceoffs (NHL.com).
Most glaring was Ribeiro's performance in the postseason. Ribeiro was a point-per-game producer in the regular season, yet he had only two points in the playoffs. True, the one goal he scored was an overtime game-winner. But that does not change the fact that he had as many goals as misconduct penalties in the playoffs.
Regarding the fiduciary aspect of this decision, Ribeiro counted $5,000,000 against the Washington salary cap in 2012-13. The team would have to pay him at least that much to keep other suitors at bay. More important to Ribeiro is the length of the contract, as he told Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times:
If I can stay in the city and retire here, it’s more about the kids. I don’t want to move them too many times. School, they’re going into high school now, so if I can stay here until they go to college, or stay in the city until they go to college, that’s my focus. It has to be four or five years.
Katie Carrera of The Washington Post recently weighed the pros and cons of the Capitals re-signing Mike Ribeiro, and she considered all the factors:
Is it realistic to expect that type of point-per-game production from Ribeiro in a full season for the next several years? Probably not. And when Ribeiro’s not producing, it draws more attention to the liabilities in his game – namely faceoff struggles (44.8 percent in the regular season) and a propensity for unnecessary penalties. While he gave the Capitals the established one-two punch down the middle that they needed in the previous three seasons, whether he fits here long term will be one of the most significant decisions McPhee must make this summer.
When you consider Ribeiro's drawbacks along with the other prominent free agents that Washington needs to consider re-signing, then general manager George McPhee's decision seemingly gets much easier.
Of course, Evgeny Kuznetsov must keep his latest promise to the Capitals, or the team will once again be searching for a second-line center before the 2014-15 season begins (RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com).