Why the Caps don't have room for Ribeiro

Why the Caps don't have room for Ribeiro
June 4, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Washington Capitals center Mike Ribeiro (9) skates with the puck as New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) chases in the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

With one month to go before the start of NHL free agency, Mike Ribeiro appears to be no closer to remaining a Washington Capital as he was at the end of the season.

And if you take a look at our salary chart below, you’ll see why.

In an email sent to CSNWashington.com on Tuesday Riberio’s agent, Don Meehan, said

“There really aren’t any updates” on contract talks involving the Capitals and the 33-year-old center, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.

Two days after the Capitals were eliminated by the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Ribeiro said he enjoyed playing in Washington and would listen to what the Capitals had to offer.

Back then, Caps general manager George McPhee expressed an interest in re-signing Ribeiro, saying, “We’ll get to work on it and see what develops.”

Caps coach Adam Oates described Ribeiro’s contributions – he finished second on the club with 49 points in 48 games -- as “huge,” adding, “Hopefully, the parties will work it out, because we love him.”

Three weeks later, it appears very little has been accomplished in the Caps’ attempts to retain Ribeiro. The parameters of a new deal for Ribeiro were set back in March when Ribeiro reportedly rejected a three-year, $14 million offer from the Caps.

Following the Caps’ elimination from the playoffs Ribeiro said he wants to retire in Washington and would accept a contract length of four or five years, but does not want to be “selfish” with his demands.

If the two sides are not in the same ballpark and decide to part ways, where does that leave the Caps? Will they be content with Brooks Laich as their No. 2 center? If not, how much cap space would they have to sign a free-agent center to replace Ribeiro?

For the sake of argument, here’s a look at the Capitals’ projected depth chart, along with 2013-14 cap hits. We’ve estimated RFA contracts [bold face] for Marcus Johansson and Karl Alzner and removed UFAs Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks from the equation, along with defenseman Jeff Schultz, who is likely to be traded or bought out.

Forward Lines

Marcus Johansson [$1.3m] Nicklas Backstrom [$6.7m] Alex Ovechkin [$9.5m]

Martin Erat [$4.5m] Brooks Laich [$4.5m] Troy Brouwer [$3.7m]

Jason Chimera [$1.75m] Mathieu Perreault [1.05m] Joel Ward [$3m]

Aaron Volpatti [$575,000] Jay Beagle [$900,000] Eric Fehr [$1.5m]

Defense Pairings

Karl Alzner [$3.3m] Mike Green [$6.1 m]

John Erskine [$2m] John Carlson [$4m]

Jack Hillen [$700,000] Steve Oleksy [$541,667]

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [$1.85m] Michal Neuvirth [$2.5m]

Total Projected Payroll [20 players]: $60 million

NHL Salary Cap: $64.3

Cap Space: $4.3 million 

Remember that the above figures are accounting for just 20 players and are not including rookie right wing Tom Wilson [$1.3 million] and defensemen Dmitry Orlov [$900,000] and Cameron Schilling [$1.775M], all of whom could be on the opening night roster and eating up another $4 million in cap space.

In other words, even if Schultz’ $2.75 million comes off the books, it seems fiscally impossible for the Caps to re-sign Ribeiro and/or Hendricks unless they decide to trade or amnesty Erat.

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