Ribeiro, Hendricks prepare for departure

Ribeiro, Hendricks prepare for departure
July 1, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Is Lecavalier an option for the Caps?

Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks are counting down the days until NHL free agency and it appears the Capitals are doing nothing to get in their way.

Ribeiro, 33, and Hendricks, 31, are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on Friday. Neither player has had significant contract negotiations with the Capitals since prior to last season’s trade deadline.

Messages left for Ribeiro’s agent, Don Meehan, and Hendricks’ agent, Michael Wulkan, went unreturned on Monday.

Ribeiro, who finished second on the Caps with 49 points in 48 games last season, reportedly turned down a three-year, $14 million offer by Capitals in March. He is in the final year of a five-year, $25 million deal and is seeking a contract of four or five years.

Judging from the Caps’ interest in Tampa Bay Lightning free-agent center Vinny Lecavalier – coach Adam Oates tried selling him on the idea of playing in Washington over the weekend – it appears the Caps are prepared to part ways with Ribeiro after one season.

“We’re really happy with Mike, we all like Mike, and if it works out, good,” Oates told CSNWashington at Sunday’s NHL draft. “But if it doesn’t, then we’re all pros and we have to turn the page. That’s why we talked to Vinny. I just tried to provide information of what we’re about with our team and our players and our city and told him it would be a good fit.”

Hendricks is also believed to be seeking a deal that does not fit into the Caps’ 2013-14 budget.

A heart-and-soul player who led the Caps with 73 penalty minutes last season, Hendricks is believed to be seeking a contract worth close to $2 million a season. He earned $800,000 with the Caps last season.

Excluding restricted free agent Marcus Johansson, the Capitals have 11 forwards under contract for next season and are counting on rookies Tom Wilson [$1.3 million cap hit] and Michael Latta [$785,833] to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Before the draft, Capitals general manager George McPhee said he thinks Latta, a 22-year-old center acquired from Nashville in the Marty Erat trade, is close to being an NHLer.

“We like him a lot,” McPhee said. “A real gritty kid. He was a real handful to play against [198 penalty minutes in the AHL last season] and he’s right on the cusp now of being a National Leaguer. We’ll see what he looks like in training camp, but we like him a lot.”

What are your thoughts? Should the Caps try to replace Ribeiro with Lecavalier? How much would they miss Hendricks? Join the conversation below: