Caps acquire center Mike Ribeiro from Dallas

The Capitals acquired center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. (AP)

Ben Raby,

PITTSBURGH – The Washington Capitals have acquired center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, the club announced Friday.

The 32-year-old Ribeiro had 18 goals and 63 points in 74 games last season with Dallas and saw time on the Stars’ No.1 power play unit. Ribeiro is entering the final year of a five-year $25 million contract.

“I think it makes our team immediately better” says vice president and general manager George McPhee. “He’s got skill, he gets 60-70 points a year, he’s a pretty good shootout guy too and obviously those points are pretty valuable.”

Ribeiro will presumably be Washington’s No.2 center behind the incumbent Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals’ search for consistent production from their second-line center has been an ongoing storyline for years.

Consider that since 2009, the list of Washington’s No.2 pivots has included Sergei Fedorov, Tomas Fleischmann, Brendan Morrison, Eric Belanger, Jason Arnott, Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich.

Ribeiro’s experience and scoring ability suggest it will be his position to lose when training camp begins in September.

“We think he’s a one or two center in this league,” McPhee says. “We wanted to add a skill guy and if it would be at center then that would be ideal and so it’s nice to do it today.”

McPhee also says that he had been eyeing the 6-foot, 177-pound playmaker for a few months. The Capitals GM says he spoke with Stars management at the Trade Deadline regarding a possible deal, but with the Stars and Caps both in the playoff hunt at the time, a trade proved difficult.

“I prefer to make a trade than signing a free agent. That process is expensive and usually with more term than you want and sometimes even after getting it down, you wind up in November asking yourself ‘What did I do here?'” McPhee says.

Ribeiro is a veteran of 737 NHL games (173 goals and 560 points) and appeared in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. He was a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1998 before being traded to Dallas prior to the 2006-07 campaign.

Ribeiro was in a tough spot in Montreal as a local product with tremendous pressure to succeed and lofty expectations that some would say were never fulfilled.

Once traded to Dallas, Ribeiro’s career blossomed and in 2006-07 he had career- highs across the board with 27 goals, 56 assists and 83 points.

Ribeiro’s maturity and commitment were at times questioned in Montreal, and in 2010 he was arrested outside a Dallas restaurant for public intoxication.

“I talked to him and he’s really excited,” McPhee says of Ribeiro’s returning to the Eastern Conference. “It’s nice to call a guy to welcome him to the club and he tells you that he’s excited and that he wants to come.”

As part of the trade, Eakin heads to Dallas fresh off his first taste of the NHL. Washington’s third-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft had four goals and eight points in 30 games last season. The 21-year-old also had 13 goals and 27 points in 43 games with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears.

“We gave up a real good kid in Cody. He’s going to play a long time in this league but obviously Ribeiro is going to come in and play a lot higher in the lineup.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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