When the Washington Capitals acquired center Mike Ribeiro over the weekend, not only did they finally fill the team’s biggest void, but they also said goodbye to forward Alexander Semin.
While Semin’s agent had already let it be known that his 28-year-old client preferred to test free agency, general manager George McPhee helped Semin out the door by essentially redistributing his salary cap space to Ribeiro.
Whether or not the move works out for the Caps remains to be seen, but if nothing else it shakes up the lineup and brings in a dynamic playmaker who excels at setting up his teammates.
Semin, of course, was a maddeningly frustrating player who shied away from physical play and had a knack for taking penalties at the worst possible time. Ribeiro, on the other hand, is a dependable veteran who makes his linemates better. He’s a pass-first player who has a good enough shot to keep defenses honest.
Over the last four seasons, Semin earned $21.9 million while scoring 123 goals and 148 assists for 271 points in 277 games.
During the same time frame, Ribeiro earned $20 million while scoring 78 goals and 187 assists for 265 points in 304 games.
The number that stands out most when comparing Semin and Ribeiro is the games played. Ribeiro has played in 27 more games than Semin during the last four seasons, which works out to roughly seven extra games per season.
Ribeiro isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, but he’s durable and he’s tough. He’s willing to play on the nights he’s less than 100 percent, which makes life much easier on whoever Washington’s next coach is going to be.
And most importantly, while the Dallas Stars have never been confused for an offensive juggernaut, Ribeiro found a way to remain consistently productive — scoring 407 points in 461 games over six seasons in Dallas.
But what Caps fans will likely love most about Ribeiro is his creative flair. When opposing defenses gave Ribeiro took much room to operate, the 32-year-old had little trouble making them pay. Take a look at just a few of the highlight videos floating around on the web:
The announcers actually referred to this goal, which Ribeiro set up with a sweet behind-the-back move along the boards, as “six shades of sexy.” Can’t say I disagree.
The commentators for this next video were much more reserved, but still described Ribeiro’s shootout move as “filthy,” as well as “suave, creamy and nasty.” Indeed.
Finally, we’ve got what is quite possibly the best of the bunch — an absurd between-the-legs goal that the 12-year veteran scored while parallel to the net.
These videos should prove two things — first, this guy apparently loves abusing the Calgary Flames. All three of these highlight videos came at their expense, so make sure you tune in the night they face the Capitals.
And second, Ribeiro’s game is silky smooth and the guy clearly has fun out there on the ice. Pairing him with captain Alex Ovechkin can only bring out the best in both talented players, while simultaneously freeing up top-line center Nicklas Backstrom to work with others.
So while there’s still plenty of work to be done before the puck drops on opening night — namely, selecting the individual who will coach these players — this move has already gotten me excited for next season. The last time this franchise had a legitimate second option at center was three years ago when senior citizen Sergei Fedorov came to town during the final days of his illustrious career.
By all accounts, Ribeiro has plenty of hockey left to play and — having only made it to the playoffs twice in the last six seasons — has got to be dying to get back to the postseason. If these highlights are any indication, watching him get there is going to be half the fun.