One of the more pressing questions heading into the Capitals’ offseason was whether unrestricted free agents Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks would be re-signed before July 4 or set free to continue their careers in other NHL cities.
With just eight days remaining before the start of free agency Caps general manager George McPhee said Monday there’s not much to report on either contract negotiation.
“Not right now,” McPhee said. “We’ll know more after the draft. I don’t like to do too many things before we go to the draft because it limits flexibility.
“We’ve made a couple of big moves at the draft with [trading for Troy] Brouwer and [Mike] Riberio, so I don’t want to get involved in too many things before the draft. We’ll see how things go there and then we’ll get to that after that.”
Ribeiro, 33, finished second on the Caps last season with 36 assists and 49 points. Hendricks, 32, had five goals, three assists and a team-high 73 penalty minutes.
If the Capitals believe Ribeiro is asking too much to keep him – he reportedly turned down a three-year, $14 million offer before this year’s trade deadline – they could try filling their need for a No. 2 center with a draft-day trade.
The Flyers have announced they will make second-line center Danny Briere one of their two compliance buyouts, but McPhee declined to address his interest in trading for the rights to the 35-year-old center.
“I’m not going to answer that,” McPhee said. “I wouldn’t be able to discuss other teams’ players.”
McPhee is no stranger to draft day deals.
In addition to Brouwer in 2011 and Ribeiro in 2012, he also moved up in the draft in 2008 to take defenseman John Carlson, a pick obtained from the Flyers for Steve Eminger and a third-rounder.
“There may be more activity in this one than other drafts,” McPhee said. “You would think that would be the case because some teams have cap issues and have to move some players. You would think there would be more of that activity. We’ll see.
“I’ve talked to a lot of GMs recently, in the last three days, just trying to figure out what they want to do at the draft, what they want to do in general.”
McPhee said many GMs have taken the guessing out of making trades by informing their counterparts which players they’d like to move.
“Years ago people weren’t that open about that,” he said. “Now they have to get [a list] of the guys they want to move out there because they only have so much flexibility. They get their wish list out there.”
McPhee says there are only two times during the year that allows for much trade activity – at the draft and at the trade deadline. He said he prefers the days when he could trade a player at the end of training camp instead of being forced to keep him an entire season, often because of his salary.
“It’s really hard to do now,” he said. “You have to make your decisions in the summer and get locked in. You have lots of conversations where, ‘Yeah, I’d like to move this guy but I can’t find anyone to take him and he’s a good player.
“So I don’t think it’s easier in that respect. You get to a point in conversations a little quicker, but moving people throughout the year, it was more fun before and better for clubs before.”