Mike Ribeiro said that he doesn’t expect to be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. but that he also doesn’t anticipate signing a contract extension with the Capitals Wednesday, either.
“Not really nervous. I think we have a good thing going here. Close to our division, close to making the playoffs,” Ribeiro said. “I don’t really see myself move or sign today. We’ll just get focused for the game tomorrow.”
Ribeiro, 33, is in the final year of five-year, $25 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5 and he has said he is seeking a long-term deal, which the veteran center defines as four or five years.
The Montreal native said he isn’t concerned about being able to sign a contract for next season, whether with the Capitals or elsewhere. For now, Ribeiro is glad to know that he appears to be staying in Washington for at least the remainder of the season.
“The relief is more about staying here or not staying. It was more that than my contract,” Ribeiro said. “Contract I don’t think I’m worried if I’m going to sign for next year’s season. That will happen. It was more to know if I was staying here or not. With our last two weeks or so I think you can see our potential, what we can do. I’m happy here and hopefully we can keep winning here and make the playoffs.”
Over the past several days, whether General Manager George McPhee would trade or re-sign Ribeiro prior to the trade deadline was one of the largest questions looming for the Capitals.
As Washington captured five of six points on its recently completed road trip and moved within two points of the Southeast Division lead, though, it seemed unlikely that McPhee would trade away the team’s second-line center and second-leading scorer.
“I still have the rest of this year of my contract so nothing changes,” Ribeiro said. “I still have a lot of time after today if they want to sign me or not. So for me it’s to keep playing and make the playoffs and at some point we can talk and get things done and see where it goes from there.”
Ribeiro remaining in Washington also sends a clear message to the rest of the team that the focus is on succeeding this season.
“He’s a very, very important piece of this team right now,” Troy Brouwer said. “With him not being moved, guys know that we have that second-line center that adds another element of dangerous ability to put the puck in the net and be a solid two-way player behind Nicky. He’s been phenomenal for us all year long. Guys are still hoping that if he doesn’t get traded here that they’ll find a way to keep him here for a while.”