“They’ve played well for us this year and we have lots of time to talk,” McPhee said. “We’ll see what the future brings. I just didn’t think it would be the right thing to do for our team or our fan base.”
Ribeiro was confident well before 3 p.m. that he wasn’t getting traded but also knew he wasn’t signing a deal immediately. The 33-year-old will worry about the contract later and concentrate now on being one of the Caps’ top offensive weapons.
“I think we have a good thing going here: close to our division [lead], close to making the playoffs,” Ribeiro said.
Brouwer said he believed this group was better than last year’s team, which made it to Game 7 of the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers. Having Ribeiro around has a lot to do with that.
“He’s a very, very important piece of this team right now,” Brouwer said. “With him not being moved, guys know that we have that second-line center that adds another element of dangerous ability to put the puck in the net and be a solid two-way player behind [Nicklas Backstrom]. He’s been phenomenal for us all year long.”
McPhee’s hope is that Erat will be able to step in and contribute in a top-six role right away. Erat had to waive a no-movement clause to come to Washington, and it’s possible he slides onto the top line at left wing opposite Alex Ovechkin.
“The nice thing is we’re getting healthy and we have some options,” McPhee said. “We like the player a lot. He’s a real good veteran player, terrific speed, good sense, plays the game right.”
Erat has recorded at least 49 points in the past eight seasons, including a career-high 58 last year. And his desire to win now fits well with the Caps’.
“For me, I was getting older,” Erat said. “I don’t have seven, eight years to wait for another chance.”
With Erat, the Caps have parts of three seasons, with Backstrom and Ovechkin each still in their prime, to get the job done. But of course it came with McPhee gambling the future for a better chance in the present.
“You’re playing on your instincts and experiences as a manager,” he said. “If I do this, does it make us better now, does it make us better in the future?”