Today, the Phoenix (soon to be Arizona) Coyotes signed former Washington (and Dallas and Montreal) center Mike Ribeiro to a a 4 year free agent deal worth $22 million (an average cap hit of $5.5 million). Now, there is some question as to whether Ribeiro is worth this amount of money (poor face-off numbers, falling even strength point production, even in a year in which he played with MVP Alex Ovechkin, and weak possession numbers), but I am here to tell you all the reasons why this deal is a good one for the Coyotes.
First of all, Ribeiro is a powerplay specialist, who has averaged 26.86 PPP per year since joining the Dallas Stars in the 06-07 season (I prorated his '13 stats to a full 82 game year to get this number). One place the Coyotes can certainly improve massively is on the powerplay and Ribeiro should do just that, even if it only gets us out of the bottom third of the league.
Secondly, Ribeiro should help any of our wing players that get paired with him. He has only scored 20 or more goals 3 times in his career but has averaged 49 assists (again with prorated '13 numbers) in the last 7 years. He can get Vrbata to the 30-35 goal mark again or Boedker to be a 50-60 point a year guy by continuing the pace he has set for the past few years.
Third, he slots Hanzal into place as this teams' number two center which is a huge improvement for Marty. While Hanzal has performed admirably as the Coyotes' top center in the last few years, I don't think anyone would argue that he is a number 1 center. Playing on a second line, either with Doan or Boedker, should free Hanzal up to be a much better player for the next few seasons as he can concentrate on doing what he does best, being a shutdown pivot, instead of trying to also be an offensive catalyst.
Finally, Ribeiro signing this deal with long-term commitment coming off a season in which he finished tenth in the league in points, might be the first step in the legitimizing of this franchise as a viable free agent landing spot going forward. If nothing else, Ribeiro coming to Glendale is the first strike that GMDM and RSE/Ice Arizona (whatever they are going to be called going forward) needed to put the frustration the past four years of ownership uncertainty created behind them.
In closing, while paying $5.5 million per year to a player who has only been above 70 points 3 times in his career (although his numbers from this past year would prorate to 83 points in a full 82 game season) seems like an overpay, it's all the other factors that Ribeiro brings with him that makes this a potentially great signing by GMDM. Maloney has proven to be one of the savviest gm's in the league, and this contract is just another chance for us to see why.