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Ribeiro the rapper meets the media


Ribeiro the rapper meets the media

When recently acquired Capitals center Mike Ribeiro greeted the Washington media on Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, he showed up wearing a diamond earring, a gold necklace, white pants and sandals.
Adam Oates first impressions of the 32-year-old veteran?
Well, hes skinnier than I thought he was, Oates said. And, oh my, hes a rapper. He looks like a rapper.
Just imagine the kind of music Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin could make. After all, Ovechkin was featured in a Russian rap video last summer.
The Caps, of course, are more interested to see what kind of music Ribeiro and Ovechkin can create on the ice next season. The Capitals acquired Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars just before the NHL draft on June 22, in exchange for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick of the draft.
In his past six seasons in Dallas, Ribeiro has averaged 21 goals and 47 assists and the Capitals are expecting similar numbers next season, especially if he is matched with Ovechkin.

Obviously its a team with a lot of skill and a lot of talent and Im here to create, Ribeiro said. Im a guy that likes to create so its nice to have guys who can put the puck in the net.
At the end of the day every year this team is among the top five favorites for winning the Cup but theres always a missing piece or two, so hopefully I can be that piece that helps this team go farther in the playoffs and hopefully win a Cup.
When Ribeiro was traded from the Montreal Canandiens to the Stars in 2006 he thought he was going to the Capitals instead. This time around he wasnt sure where he was headed but with one year and 5 million remaining on his contract he had a good idea the Stars were ready to cut ties with him.
We changed coaches twice and we didnt make the playoffs the last four years so you figure that the next thing they may do is trade the top salary or the top player, so I was waiting for it, Ribeiro said. I just didnt know where I was going. But Im glad that Im here and have a chance to win and a chance to win the Cup.
For those counting, thats three references to the Stanley Cup in a span of just a few minutes.
Ribeiro said one of the first phone calls he received after the trade came from Ovechkin, who struggled through a 65-point season last year, the least productive of his career.
Thats the first thing that crossed my mind, Ribeiro said of playing alongside Ovechkin. I like right-handers and hes a right-handed shooter and it will probably be easier for me during the game to give the puck to a guy like that who can score.
But most of all, the first thing that crossed my mind was the power play and being able to have Mike Green and Ovechkin, two right-handed shots, and to be able to dish to those guys. Hopefully, we can have a great power play because nowadays special teams are one of the most important things in the game.
Although Ribeiros career numbers 173 goals, 287 assists pale in comparison to Oates 341 goals, 1,079 assists, he said the two play very similar styles and overcame many of the same obstacles.
He wasnt that fast, Im not that fast, Ribeiro said. Hes a guy that likes to create plays and Im kind of the same. Obviously, he was probably a better than me as a passer.
He looks cool and relaxed and really down to earth and I guess for players like us, its nice to know that your coach played in the league and knows the game a little bit more. Im just anxious to come here and learn again. Ive learned from all my coaches and Im sure Im going to learn again. Im 32 and Ive learned a lot but theres a lot more to learn too and Im excited for it.
Oates recorded 651 points after his 32nd birthday and is hoping Ribeiro is capable of getting better with age, especially if he shares the ice with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
I feel 22, said Ribeiro, who has two boys, Mikael, 11, and Noah, 7, and a girl, Viktoria, 6. I feel great. With the talent that we have and the skill and players that we have I can see myself having an even better season than in the past.
Ribeiro joked that Ovechkin is one of his sons favorite players and he hopes playing with No. 8 will rejuvenate his career. Ribeiro has also chosen to wear No. 9, a number he wore when he was growing up but was denied him when he played in Montreal because of Rocket Richard and in Dallas because of Mike Modano.
When I came here, the first thing I said was, Well, 9 is free. So for the first time after 12 years, I can play with it, Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro said he is hoping the Capitals can get him back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. In 42 career playoff games Ribeiro has five goals and 20 assists but no Cup rings.
Championships is winning by defense, he said. You can score five, six, seven goals during the regular season and when it comes to playoff time, you score two or three max.
You need to focus defensively a little bit more and take chances away from other teams. With the talent that we have, the skill, I think if you're patient and play smart defensively, you'll create offense just by your skill.

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Brooks Orpik's knee injury helped decision on retirement

Brooks Orpik's knee injury helped decision on retirement

One big reason Brooks Orpik decided to hang up his skates, as he announced on Tuesday, was the severity of a knee injury, which impaired him for most of the 2018-19 season.

"I knew a long time ago, to be honest with you," Orpik told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "From the time I had surgery on it was pretty evident that I wasn't gonna play another year after this."

After playing 10 games in October to start the season, Orpik was was placed on long-term injured reserve, then underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in November. 

He returned to the lineup Dec. 31 and played a total of 53 games during the regular season last year.

But despite the medical staff's best efforts, Orpik remained in pain for the duration of the season.

"I'd use the elevator at [Capital One Arena] to go up and down cause I couldn't go up and down stairs," Orpik said. "When I couldn't do that it was time to stop playing hockey I figured.

"I could just get it to a point where I could play for two and a half hours and then pay for it afterward and then try to do it all over again."

Orpik's dealt with a multitude of injuries during his career in Washington. During the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, Orpik lost part of his pinkie finger after a brutal slash courtesy of Erik Haula. He also dealt with an infection in his leg during the Caps 2017 playoff run, which he acquired after blocking a shot.

During his tenure with the Penguins, Orpik suffered a broken finger in 2011 and was carted off the ice in 2013 after being pulled down and punched by then Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton.


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Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly

Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s quarterfinal matchup:

Region: Capitals free agents

Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly
2018-19 stats

Brett Connolly (27 years old): 81 games played with the Capitals, 22 goals, 24 assists, 46 points, 13:20 TOI
Playoffs: 7 games played with the Capitals, 2 goals, 0 assists, 4 points, 13:50 TOI

Devante Smith-Pelly (27 years old): 54 games played with the Capitals, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, 10:51 TOI

Playoffs: 3 games played with the Caps, no goals, no assists, no points, 9:47 TOI

Hockey-Graph contract projections

Brett Connolly: 3 years, $3,536,091 cap hit
Devante Smith-Pelly: 2 years, $1,149,369

The case for Brett Connolly

The Capitals have already re-signed one of their third-line free agents with Carl Hagelin’s new deal. Is there room left for Connolly? Connolly has made himself comfortable in Washington. He tied his career highs in goals twice (15) and then broke through with a career-best 22. And he is one of the league’s most productive players given his limited ice time. 
There are just too many big names in front of Connolly to get him much power-play time. Those 22 goals wouldn’t be easy to replace and GM Brian MacLellan said scoring depth is a concern this offseason. If he is again willing to sacrifice role for a bump in pay and some security then maybe Connolly returns to a place he re-ignited his career. The talent is certainly there as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft and Connolly is headed into his age-27 season so a three or four-year deal takes care of his prime years. 
But the argument ultimately rests on the salary cap, which at $81.5 million is problematic. It might be out of Washington’s hands anyway. Even if the Capitals want to keep him, other teams could use money AND ice time to entice Connolly. But can they strike gold again with another cheap third-line winger as they did with Connolly? That’s not easy to replicate. They could simply sign Connolly and take care of it, but the salary cap is tight.

The case for Smith-Pelly

There is no question that Smith-Pelly can be inconsistent, but he always seems to bring it in the playoffs. Before his seven-goal performance in the 2018 Cup run, Smith-Pelly was brilliant with the Anaheim Ducks scoring five goals in 12 games back in 2014.

With Carl Hagelin re-signed and players like Jakub Vrana, Christian Djoos and other depth pieces still on the horizon, affordability is pretty much the biggest asset for any free agent available to Washington and it won’t get much more affordable than Smith-Pelly.

Hockey-Graphs can be spot on with some of its projections and outright wrong for others and this case is definitely the latter. Smith-Pelly’s contract for the 2018-19 season was a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1 million. After scoring just eight points and getting demoted to the AHL, there is no way he walks into next season with a two-year deal and a raise. The cap hit is going to be low for Smith-Pelly and that makes him a very attractive choice for the Caps – if both sides can put last year’s awkwardness behind them. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.