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Capitals trade for Mike Ribeiro from Stars

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Dallas Stars center Mike Ribeiro, left, defenseman Stephane Robidas, center left, center Steve Ott, center right, and left wing Brenden Morrow, right, celebrate a goal by Ribeiro in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Friday, April 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider) Dallas Stars center Mike Ribeiro, left, defenseman Stephane Robidas, center left, center Steve Ott, center right, and left wing Brenden Morrow, right, celebrate a goal by Ribeiro in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Friday, April 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)

PITTSBURGH | George McPhee talked up the NHL draft as a chance to make picks and build more for the future, but early Friday night he made a big move to improve the Washington Capitals now.

He got his second-line center, acquiring Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick.

Ribeiro, 32, who has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $5 million, had 18 goals and 45 assists last season with the Stars.

Second-line center was one of the major holes the Caps needed to fill in the offseason. With Olli Jokinen likely the top option in unrestricted free agency, it wasn’t shocking that McPhee went the trade route.

Getting Ribeiro allows the Caps flexibility on the second and third lines, including the possibility of Brooks Laich taking on a shutdown role or playing on the wing.

The 21-year-old Eakin had four goals and four assists in 30 games with the Caps this past season. He was considered among the organization’s top prospects, though his ceiling appears likely to be third-line center in the NHL.

McPhee is expected to address the move after Washington’s second pick in the first round. The Caps now have 10 picks remaining in the NHL draft.

Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green took to Twitter shortly after the trade was announced to give Ribeiro their well-wishes.

“Welcome to the Caps Mike Riberio!!! i hope we do big things))) u r going to love fans at Verizon Center hahaha!!” Ovechkin wrote.

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