The Washington Times - May 15, 2013, 03:53PM

Mike Ribeiro is 33 years old and will be an unrestricted free agent in July. If the playmaking center is back with the Washington Capitals, it won’t be on a short-term deal, he reiterated Wednesday.

“I don’t see myself getting worse,” Ribeiro said. “It can only get better. I can be out there. I can work out more. There’s a lot of room there to improve and you know, that’s why I don’t think I should have less than four or five years.”

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Four or five years is even longer of a long-term deal than Ribeiro mentioned in March before the trade deadline, when he said three or four. Ribeiro made it clear he enjoyed his season in Washington.

“If I can stay in the city and retire here, it’s more about the kids,” said Ribeiro, who has three children. “I don’t want to move them too many times. School, they’re going into high school now, so if I can stay here until they go to college, or stay in the city until they go to college, that’s my focus. It has to be four or five years.”

It’s uncertain if general manager George McPhee would be willing to give Ribeiro four or five years.

“It’s always a delicate process, whoever you’re negotiating with,” McPhee said. “It’s important to be hard on the merits and soft on the people and do it right. But I’ve never really discussed contract negotiations. As I’ve said 100 times, it never helps the process. And so we’ll get to work on it and see what develops.”

Ribeiro said he had a few weeks to think about it and “see what the best options are for me and for the team.”

Ribeiro finished with 13 goals and 36 assists, and his 49 points were second on the team behind captain Alex Ovechkin, who is 27 years old and has a cap hit of over $9.5 million.

“I don’t want to be selfish by signing too much and not being able to get other guys here or re-sign guys here,” Ribeiro said. “Once you make the playoffs, you want to go back, and you see the potential that we have here. If we can bring in guys or be better next year as a team, your chance of winning will increase, and that’s where I want to be.”