Way to go Anaheim. You had ONE job. Just win a Game 7 at home. Now we all have to sit through another round of life-long (read: 5 years) Chicago fans telling us how awesome their team is and how Corey Crawford should be a Vezina finalist. Good going guys, great job.
Well the Stanley Cup Finals are set. It’s going to be the Tampa Bay Lightning versus the Chicago Blackhawks. I want to root for the Lightning but I know I shouldn’t. Every team I’ve rooted for in the playoffs has lost in the round I switched to them. The Nashville Predators in first round, Washington Capitals in the second, and the New York Rangers in the Conference Finals. In any case, I’m sure the NHL is happy to have at least one major-market team with a huge fan base make it to the Finals. Should be a fun one.
Anyway, on to our continuing free agent review of the Predators. Today it’s number seven of eleven. A Predator who was signed last year for a song and some Goo Goo bars, Mike Ribeiro.
For a breakdown of free agent statuses and the difference between them, check out this hockey-reference.com page.
Current Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
Ribeiro was bought out by the
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes after the 2013-2014 season. The Coyotes had signed him to a four-year deal the summer before, but things went south very quickly in the desert. Ribeiro missed meetings, missed buses, and was just being an all-around bad teammate. I could write a whole article about how down and out Ribeiro was before last season. When a team is willing to pay almost $2 million so you don’t play for them, things are bad. Most teams saw this as a reason to stay as far away from Ribeiro as possible, but David Poile saw an opportunity.
Ribeiro reportedly sought out Poile and the Predators for one last chance, and Poile gave it to him. He signed Ribeiro to a one year deal. One year to prove he had put his problems behind him and be a part of an NHL team. It was a low-risk, high reward move for the Predators. If Ribeiro worked out, they would get a first-line center for a fraction of his actual worth. If he didn’t, they weren’t on the hook for much money or term.
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Last year Ribeiro made $2,949,444. $1.05 million of that was from the Predators, $1,944,444 of that was from the Coyotes. You can stop for a minute and let that sink in. The Coyotes paid him almost twice what the Predators did to play this season.
Well you can file this one under “Poile is a genius”. Ribeiro had his redemption. From all accounts he was a model teammate on and off the ice. He was the first Predator to reach 60 points since J.P. Dumont scored 65 during the 2008-2009 season. Ribeiro finished second on the team with 62 points on the year, including a team-high 47 assists. He was a major catalyst to Filip Forsberg’s breakout season. The two obviously meshed well together on the first line and combined with James Neal to create one of the most exciting top lines the Predators have ever seen.
Ribeiro’s passing this season was a thing of art. The guy can go tape-to-tape from one end of the ice to the other. His shooting percentage was incredible as well. Ribeiro’s shots beat the goalie 15.6% of the time, second best on the team. The frustrating thing about that is that he only registered 96 shots this season for an average of 1.17 times per game. For a reference point, that’s about the same amount as Calle Jarnkrok’s 95, the difference being that Jarnkrok is a third line center who played eight fewer games than Ribeiro. Ribeiro’s never been a high volume shooter, but it would have been nice to see him fire it off a bit more, especially with his well above-average shooting percentage.
His even-strength Corsi For was a healthy 57.3% this past season, and his Fenwick For was 56.2%. No one in their right mind is going to complain with that.
Future With the Predators
all signs point to a happy relationship for the next couple of years
Both Ribeiro and the Nashville Predators seem to think he will be back next season . He bought a home here. His family loves Nashville. He wants to settle down and finish his career somewhere and Nashville would seem to be the place to do it. Poile has said that re-signing Ribeiro is a priority, so all signs point to a happy relationship for the next couple of years.
Here’s the thing though, those 62 points actually mark a low-point of sorts for Ribeiro. Excluding his season of debacle in Arizona, Ribeiro’s points per game of 0.76 this past season was his lowest since the 2006-2007 (0.73). His shots per game average was his lowest since the 2002-2003 season when he averaged 1.10 shots per game with the Montreal Canadians. He turned 35-years-old in February and he’s not getting any younger. This has to be at least a bit worrisome to the Predators, as there is evidence that he may be losing a step.
There is also the unfortunate pending lawsuit filed by a former nanny. The alleged incident occurred in 2012, well before he was a Predator, but it still casts a pretty dark shadow over him. That has to be taken into account before signing a guy to a big-money deal. While his troublesome past may be behind him, sometimes the past has a way of catching up. It will be interesting to see how much bearing that has on his final contract.
The fact remains that the Predators don’t really have another option for a top line center at the moment and Ribeiro is a great option who will hopefully give the Predators a hometown discount, ya know, on account of them taking a chance on him and all. It’s also possible that he lowers his asking price a big considering the Coyotes are on the hook for almost $2 million for another three years.
I would expect him to re-sign with the Predators for another two years. He can still contribute as a 1C and hopefully his experience in the locker room will help some of the younger players develop until they can fill that role. However, if he asks for too much money, the right move would be to let him walk.
I definitely see Ribeiro wearing gold next season. There are a couple of snags that could sink the deal, but there aren’t any better options on the free-agent market and any trade for a 1C would cost the team dearly. Ribeiro sticks around.
Gut Feeling Odds of Re-Signing: 85/15 In Favor