PITTSBURGH, PA – For the last four seasons, the Washington Capitals have lacked a center. Friday night in the City of Bridges, they may have finally plugged the hole.
George McPhee pulled off yet another coup, landing pivot Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for pennies – center Cody Eakin and the 54th overall pick in the 2012 Draft.
Ribeiro, 32, would seem to be the answer to the Capitals’ glaring hole at center. Standing 6’0”, the Montreal native had 18 goals and 45 assists this past season and has not scored fewer than 63 points in a full season over the last five campaigns.
“We wanted to add a little bit of skill to our lineup,” McPhee said. “I just didn’t like the way we played in the playoffs. We got some big, gritty forwards and we just wanted to put another guy in the middle of it to see if it helps. I think it makes our team immediately better.”
When asked if plugging the second line center hole was the top priority this offseason, McPhee simply responded, “Yes."
"We think he’s a 1 or 2 center in this league. I just felt like at some point this summer we wanted to add a skill guy, and if it was at center ice, that would be ideal.”
As usual, McPhee managed to add a player at a lower price than the market would seem to dictate. Only 15% of 2nd round picks in the last ten years have made a significant NHL impact – and Cody Eakin, who at one point was moved for eight assets in the Western Hockey League – was a small price to pay as his stock had recently fallen.
After making the trade for Ribeiro, McPhee wasn’t done. Following a number of teams going wild early in the first round and picking players not ranked in the top ten by many, the Capitals were presented with a golden opportunity: take a player ranked in the top five outside of the top ten selections. And the General Manager delivered, landing what many consider the steal of the draft at this early stage: Swedish winger Filip Forsberg.
“Well, of course it’s a big honor to get to go to the Washington Capitals and to be a part of their great organization,” Forsberg said. “So yeah, really looking forward to it. This is just the start of hopefully a good career.”
It was a no-brainer pick for the Capitals, who had one of the best players in the draft essentially fall into their lap. Forsberg was the top European skater ranked by basically every scouting service, and most mock drafts had him being selected in the top five.
“The scouts the table the scouts were unanimous,” McPhee said when asked about his thought process. “‘We have to take this guy, he’s a fantastic player. We have to take this guy.’”no comments