Washington Capitals trade rumors, trade deadline outlook
The Washington Capitals are out of the playoff race, so who should they be looking to trade?
With the 2013 NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET April 3, Eye on Hockey will examine whether each team is a buyer or seller at the deadline, and who each team should look to sell or receive by the deadline.
Buyers or Sellers
Well, this is an easy one.
The Capitals' playoff hopes are crushed for the 2013 season so they're pretty clearly sellers.
With a few expiring contracts on the roster they have some pieces to move with center Mike Ribeiro being the biggest potential chip that general manager George McPhee has at his disposal.
It's actually been pretty quiet on the Capitals front.
They're obviously not dealing guys like Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom, and most of the upcoming free agents that would be potential rentals just aren't that exciting. Ribeiro is the exception to that, and he's a player who's been mentioned little this season as a potential trade target. Especially as the Capitals have fallen down the Eastern Conference standings. He's a free agent this summer and having a great season, and if the Capitals decide to put him on the market there should be a number of teams lining up to get him. The Anaheim Ducks could probably use another playmaking center and seem like they might be a potential partner. Staying in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs stand out as a potential target.
Potential Trade Bait
As I already mentioned, the Capitals have a number of unrestricted free agents after this season so it's only logical to assume those are potential trade chips. Trouble is, most of them are simply depth players who won't bring much of a return (Eric Fehr, Wojtek Wolski, Matt Hendricks, Tom Poti). So it's nothing that's too exciting.
Until you get to Ribeiro.
I suppose it's possible the Capitals could make an effort to re-sign Ribeiro but it might make more sense for them to strike while the iron is hot and deal him (as soon as they possibly can) while they can still get something for him.
He's having a wonderful year, but there's a lot to suggest that he's not going to duplicate it next season, at least as far as his goal-scoring is concerned. He has 10 goals in 29 games and is converting on more than 27 percent of his shots. That's just not going to last into next season. The last time he had a season like this in terms of goal-scoring was back in 2007-08 when he was a member of the Dallas Stars when he shot 25 percent. That number dropped 14 points the following season and he scored fewer goals despite playing in more games.
He's still an excellent playmaker, but given what he might get on a new contract combined with a likely regression it still seems like the Capitals would get more value by dealing him, especially with there being so few sellers right now. With Ryan Getzlaf off the market and so many teams still believing they have an opportunity to make the playoffs, Ribeiro could be one of the top players available and the Capitals would be wise to use that to their advantage.
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