The Nashville Predators were desperate for help at center. Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy were desperate for new homes in the NHL.
Both players signed 1-year deals with Nashville on Wednesday, bolstering a roster that resembled a donut up front. Roy signed for 1 year and $1 million; the Preds signed Ribeiro to a 1-year, $1.05-million contract, as he found an NHL team willing to take him on after his reputation was slaughtered by the Arizona Coyotes when they bought him out.
Said GM David Poile on Roy, who played for the St. Louis Blues last season:
“Derek brings us added depth, playmaking ability and experience at center, helping complement our young, developing wingers,” Poile said. “He has played in a number of roles, averaging about 19 minutes of ice time throughout his career, and is effective on the power play. He provides our coaching staff with some added skill and maturity down the middle when putting together our lineup for the coming season.”
On Ribeiro, Poile said:
“Mike is a talented veteran center who has produced offensively everywhere he has played,” Poile said. “We have done our due diligence and believe Mike has a lot to offer to our team, improves us at our center ice position and will fit in with our group and contribute.”
Riberio signed his deal with the Coyotes last summer after asking for too much term from the Capitals, who were willing to bring him back as a No. 2 center after he tallied 49 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened season. But he chased the years, ended up in the desert and reached the lowest point of a career that’s already had some valleys.
Ribeiro had the last three seasons of his 4-year, $22-million contract bought out by the Coyotes, with GM Don Maloney citing “behavioral issues” rather than economics. Subsequent leaks to the media detailed Ribeiro missing meetings and team buses, and that the player had “some marital issues” that affected him. By the end of the season, he was a healthy scratch for the Coyotes, for the first time in his career.
(For what it’s worth, Ribeiro’s wife shuttered her Twitter feed. She used it to blast the Washington Capitals for their decision not to bring Ribeiro back last season.)
The Predators, meanwhile, were desperate for help up the middle. They lost Mike Fisher to an Achilles injury for up to six months. They signed Olli Jokinen to a $2.5 million deal, but had little behind him in NHL experienced offensive players. Ribeiro, at the very least, gives them a center that can still hit 65-70 points on the right line. Roy also bolsters the offense.
It’s interesting to hear Poile trot out the “we have done our due diligence” line for Ribeiro, given that he just did the same before acquiring James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Poile wouldn’t confirm he spoke with former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero and Coach Dan Bylsma, but it as all over the Draft that he had before making the deal.)
At this point for the franchise, the Predators are a team that needs to take chances on players with questionable reputations, especially on offense. Not only because they’re a tough sell to a player seeking a new home – see Spezza, Jason – but because Poile can be confident that the character he brings to the table, that he already has in that room and on the bench with Peter Laviolette can turn around the career of someone like Ribeiro.
Ask Alex Radulov if "behavioral issues" are tolerated in Nashville.