Unrestricted free agent Mark Streit was recently traded from the New York Islanders to the Philadelphia Flyers, allowing the Flyers to begin negotiating with him prior to the July 5th opening of NHL Free Agency. Philadelphia promptly signed the defenseman to a four-year deal. It’s a common occurrence; the Caps traded Dennis Wideman to Calgary last offseason so that Calgary could sign him. So, we've established that the practice occurs and that the Caps will make the trade if they or the player in question has no desire to remain in DC. How does Mike Ribero fit into this tactic?
There are two easy answers to the question:
1. GM George McPhee believes he has a shot at landing Ribero for an amount of his liking. Ribero has expressed that length is more important to him at this stage in his career than per year numbers. Perhaps McPhee thinks he has a shot to spin a deal for far less money than what Ribero is currently making, say 4 years at less than $3M per. While many Caps fans would rather not have an aging second line center with bad possession numbers for that long, McPhee is not one of those fans. If he can work a deal that allows him to keep Ribero, Matt Hendricks and Karl Alzner he’ll probably do it.
2. No other NHL GMs have an interest in obtaining the exclusive negotiating rights to the center. At this point, everyone in the NHL knows that Ribero wants some stability for his family and that he’s looking for one last long-term deal. If no other GMs are willing to go over 2 or 3 years, or simply aren’t interested, where does that leave the center? Does he accept a Caps offer or take the ultimate stability and simply retire? Of course, if McPhee is trying to trade Ribero’s rights, it means he’s dealt himself out; let Mathieu Perreault man the 2C slot until Evgeny Kuznetsov crosses the Atlantic.
Or maybe the ‘you have to take Jeff Schultz to get Ribero’s rights’ trade demand is just too high.