Justin K. Aller
With the Anaheim Ducks playing as well as they are, I've begun a series of articles that will take a look at some potential trade targets for the Ducks to spruce up their roster for a deep and meaningful playoff run.
So... who am I throwing into the auction circle this week? Standing 6'0" and weighing 177 lbs, a native of Montreal: Mike Ribeiro.
WAIT! Don't run away! It's okay he can't hurt us right now seeing as he's locked up in the Eastern Conference.
If you've been a Ducks fan for any more than about a year or so, you know exactly why we run and hide when this guy's name gets thrown around. Mike Ribeiro is possibly the biggest Duck killer in the league. It seems like just about every time he's in the lineup against Anaheim, he finds the back of the net somehow. In 42 games played against the Ducks he has 11 goals 33 assists for 44 points.
Despite losing Alexander Semin to free agency, Washington still appeared to have a solid, offensive lineup with which they could contend in the playoffs.
Then the wheels fell off. All of them. Think every single wheel falling off the world's biggest motorcade of 18-wheeler trucks.
In Adam Oates' first season as an NHL head coach, the Capitals are tied for dead last the Eastern Conference with the Florida Panthers. Despite showing a few signs of life here and there, Washington's playoff hopes are looking about as grim as the Columbus Blue Jackets'.
Could this season just be a fluke for them? Yeah, it most likely is. Should the Caps take the summer to re-tool, or find a new experienced coach, or finally get their act together with a full training camp, they'll probably be back to contending next year. They've got too much star power to be this bad in consecutive years.
But that being said they will probably look to shed some guys who aren't working out to whoever might be looking at the trade deadline (*cough*DUCKS*cough*).
So here are the dirty details.
Ribeiro is currently leading the Washington Capitals in scoring with 25 points in 21 games. Yes, he's currently out-producing both Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Let's face it right now he's the one good thing going for Washington.
So why would they want to move him?
Ribeiro signed a one-year deal with Washington last summer, paying him $5 million, and he'll probably be offered for more than that next season at the rate he's going. Unless Washington is willing to up that a bit, he's probably not going to be back in DC come October.
But can they afford it? Washington's cap situation isn't the worst in the league but it's far from the best as well. If the 2013-14 salary cap were to be instated today, the Caps would BARELY squeak under the limit, and they have some talented young names due for contract renewals this summer. Odds are they're not going to be able to afford to give a significant raise to Ribero.
So the old GM's dilemma comes into play again: do you keep him and try to re-sign him while risking him walking away for nothing, or do you trade him at the deadline and at least guarantee something in return.
For the sake of this article let's assume Washington GM George McPhee does the latter and hangs a "For Sale" sign on deadline day. How would Ribeiro fit in with the Ducks?
Ribeiro's cap hit is manageable; Anaheim would only be responsible for part of his $5 million cap hit and likewise the Ducks would be able to walk away scratch-free this summer should they not be able to afford re-signing him. No immediate cap hit harm, and no threat to our imminent need to re-sign Corey Perry.
Picture this: Perry-Getzlaf-Palmieri, Ryan-Ribeiro-Selanne, Winnik-Koivu-Cogliano, Beleskey-Bonino-Etem/Holland/Maroon/(insert kid here). That's three lines capable of scoring on any shift, and a shutdown line that's playing steady, consistent hockey every night. Sounds good, yes?
But then there comes the bad question: what's he going to cost?
Unlike Calgary with Jarome Iginla, Washington is NOT going into full-blown rebuild mode and will likely be asking for something they could use to immediately improve next season as opposed to investing in their future. We would likely have to surrender a high pick (first or second round) and a prospect who's NHL ready just about now.
If I were Bob Murray, I'd try to talk him down to a package of a 2014 first rounder or 2013 second rounder, Brandon McMillan (who's due to be an RFA this summer), and Brad Staubitz. Should he become a piece in this trade it'd probably be the most productive thing Staubitz has done for the Ducks this entire season.
This means the selling price will probably wind up somewhere in between, possibly including somebody like Patrick Maroon or Peter Holland in the place of McMillan. This is where it gets painful, seeing how good these young kids have been when their turn comes up to have a shot at the NHL.
With forwards like Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Max Friberg appearing ready to make the NHL jump soon, the loss of one prospect may not hurt too badly in the long term, but nonetheless it's still a high price to pay when you consider the type of player they could become.
So I leave this question on the table. Should the Ducks make a run at Ribeiro if he goes up for sale?
I think he could be a good fit in Anaheim. For starters, if you can't keep him off the score sheet, have him join your team. Second, a proven second-line center fills in the one weakness this team seems to have in its lineup.
But likewise the asking price should he go up might be just a little too high to bring him back out west.