As the clock ticked toward the NHL’s 3 p.m. trade deadline Mike Ribeiro was neither traded nor re-signed by the Capitals.
And that’s just fine with him.
“I think we have a good thing going here,” Ribeiro, 33, said after opting out of Wednesday’s optional practice. “We’re close to the division [lead], close to making the playoffs. I don’t really see myself moved or signed today. We’ll just get focused for the game tomorrow.”
Ribeiro is in the final year of a contract that pays him $5 million a season. He has made no secret that he would like to remain with the Capitals even though he reportedly turned down a thee-year contract with $14 million. That had not changed on Wednesday.
“I still have the rest of this year on my contract,” he said. “Nothing changes. I still have a lot of time after today if they want to sign me or not. For me it’s to keep playing and make the playoffs and at some point we can talk and get things going and see where it goes from there.”
Ribeiro is tied for second on the Caps with 35 points in 36 games, two points behind Alex Ovechkin. Playing between Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich he has given the Caps the second-line center they’ve been seeking for years.
“He brings a whole other dynamic to the team,” Capitals center Jay Beagle said. “I’ve never played with a player like him before. He’s so relaxed and he makes the game look so easy out there. Ribs bring this slow-it-down mentality. He’s very slippery, very tricky. He’s a one of a kind, I think.”
Having gone 5-1-1 in their last seven games to climb within two points of the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, the Capitals have made a believer of general manager George McPhee, not to mention the players in the locker room.
“I have complete confidence in the guys in this room,” Brouwer said.
“We sputtered at the beginning of the season [2-8-1], finding our legs, finding our game, finding our identity. Over the last little while I feel we’ve gotten a lot better, we’ve come closer together as a team, and we’ve been playing really good hockey as of late and we put ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs. … We have the ability in here to make a splash in the playoffs.”
Brouwer said he tried not to pay too much attention to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beefed up with the acquisitions of Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, or the Boston Bruins, who picked up Jaromir Jagr.
“You see a lot of good players being moved right now,” Brouwer said. “A lot of them are rental players. I don’t think George is looking for that. He’s looking for a guy that can come in and be a good piece of this team for years to come and not just bring them in for a few games and playoff run. He’s trying to make out team better not just right now but for the future.”
Ribeiro would have fallen into the category of a playoff rental, but now that the Caps have caught the scent of a playoff berth, he’s happy to spend the rest of this season in D.C. and see how things develop.
“I don’t think I’m worried if I’ll sign for next season,” Ribeiro said. “That will happen. It was more to know if I’m staying here or not. With the last two weeks or so, I think you can see potential in what we can do.
“I’m happy here and hopefully we can keep winning and make the playoffs. … If we make the playoffs and we win in the playoffs then it will be easier to sign after.”