During his chat earlier today, columnist Thomas Boswell was asked to weigh in on whether the Capitals should sign center Mike Ribeiro to a long-term deal. Here’s what he had to say:
This is a tough one. I’ve been mulling it, chatting with Katie Carrera about it at a game recently. I’d lean toward “Yes.” The Caps can’t afford “rebuilding years” right now while the Ovechkin-Backstrom window is still (theoretically) open. How can you let a veteran like Ribeiro, who’s produced and fit in well with the team, gets away and just assume “oh, we’ll find a way to replace him AND add enough additional talent to get back to being a playoff team NEXT season.”
You can’t make moves that diminish your chances the next two seasons while Ovechkin, Backstrom, Laich could still adapt to Oates new system and make a jump up next season. You have to keep the window open as long as possible and let this group play out its fate. (It’s not like you are likely to find a trade partner for Ovechkin. So, what’s your alternative?)
Sometimes, you have to reason backwards. The Caps need to find out if they have a first-rate coach in Oates, who is extremely hockey-smart and detailed in his approach. He’s not an easy coach “pick up quickly” in a lockout-shortened season with almost no preparation. You just HAVE to give him a fair chance. What, get ANOTHER coach? Well, if you keep Oates, then you keep GMGM who hired him, believes in him, etc. To give ‘13-’14 that “fair chance” to measure the Oates system, you need to let him work with the same best players he had this year — plus net additions through less injuries. That means keep Ribeiro.
(This seems so logical. Which probably means it’s wrong. The OTHER argument is that 1) the window has already closed. 2) GMGM needs to go. 3) By the time you’re good again Ribeiro will be too old to be worth his contract. But I doubt many Caps fans want to throw in the towel on this era yet.)
Our own Neil Greenberg, on the other hand, believes Ribeiro is too old to be worth a long-term contract. Whose side are you on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.