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Dispelling the Myth that Mike Ribeiro is a Contract Year Player

Several people around the internet, claim that new Coyotes forward Mike Ribeiro plays his best in a contract year. Is this true?

Greg Fiume

In a Sunday article by Sen Shot, an Ottawa Senators fan site, it was stated that:

"Last year Riberio [sic] continued his trend of playing well in contract years. In the years that followed his previous contract, his production was off pace (although still pretty decent). However, this is likely his last contract and Ribeiro will never have his name mentioned among those most competitive and intense players in the game."

They are not alone in feeling that way about the 33-year-old:

Is this true?

Since the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, Ribeiro has played in all eight seasons. According to TSN, he was in a contract year during the 05-06 (signed 1-year deal on 7/2006), 06-07 (signed 1-year deal on 7/07), 07-08 (signed 5-year deal on 1/08) and 12-13 seasons (signed 4-year deal on 7/13). During those contract years, Ribeiro averaged .852 points per game (242 points in 284 games).

He was under contract from the 08-09 season through last season. In those years, he averaged .872 points per game (265 points in 304 games).

The difference between the two is roughly .02 points per game, the equivalent of a 1.6 point difference over a full 82-game season.

An advanced metrics look at his two best and most recent "contract years" in comparison to his last four non-contract years 5-on-5:

Season Offensive Zone Start Corsi Rel QoC
07-08* 70.6% -.906
08-09 54.6% +.294
09-10 45.8% +.743
10-11 53.3% +.800
11-12 53.7% +.590
12-13* 50.8% -.031

* indicates contract year. Stats courtesy of Behind The Net.

The chart above shows that he faced a higher quality of competition in every one of his non contract years as well as starting in the offensive zone, on average, less frequently.

There are other factors to consider when attempting to assign the "contract year" narrative to Ribeiro. The first being, his two best seasons (PPG wise), 07-08 and 11-12, occurred during the final year of his contract at the time; but those were not his only contract years. Secondly, Ribeiro has feasted on the power play in "contract years" but has scored more 5-on-5 in non-contract years.

Because Ribeiro has played a higher percentage of games during the final year of his contracts (affected by injury and lockout), his point totals seem higher in number but are, in fact, lower on a per-game basis.