This week Dave has already touched on Mike Ribeiro as a free agent possibility. He certainly makes for an appealing candidate who has had a productive career. I’m going to discuss why the Rangers should stay well clear of players like Ribeiro.
Once again the Rangers will likely have a hole in the middle of their line-up this offseason. If speculation is true and Brad Richards is to be bought out this summer, the Rangers will have plenty of cap space to play with. While they have to address their own roster first (McDonagh, Stepan, Zuccarello, maybe Clowe, etc) there should be some money with which to enter the free agent market. This is where it gets dicey.
With Derick Brassard emerging after his late season move to the Rangers, and Derek Stepan starting to look like an All Star centerman, the Rangers don’t necessarily need a center for the top two lines (this is where I disagree with Dave), but speculation remains that they have an interest in Mike Ribeiro from the Capitals. On the face of things it makes some sense.
The Rangers do need more skill, which Ribeiro certainly has, they need a miracle to help the powerplay, and they need more depth down the middle – Brassard and Stepan alone won’t cut it against the East’s elite. The problems however begin to surface when you consider supply and demand (an apparent weak free agent market), Ribeiro’s age and one season aside, and his underwhelming playoff résumé.
The Rangers are in a tricky situation and cannot afford to throw significant cap at players like Ribeiro. They cannot make another gigantic free agency mistake. While the Rangers roster has a nice look to it, it does need some changes made, and a player such as Ribeiro – or another aging veteran looking for a long commitment – simply is the wrong way to go.
A point per game player as a Capital this year, Ribeiro has been a fine playmaking center for both the Caps and the Dallas Stars. That said, he has always benefited from his line mates and the presence of another strong center (Brad Richards, Nicklas Backstrom). It’s too early in Stepan and Brassard’s development to expect them to create consistent mismatches for Ribeiro to be able to take advantage.
The real concern regarding Ribeiro are with his demands. According to recent reports, Ribeiro will hit free agency because he’s not happy with what the Caps can afford. As Dave pointed out, he’s already on a $5m cap hit. Can the Rangers really afford to give another 33-year-old a significant commitment? Will the Richards disaster (and Drury, and Gomez, and Redden…) be enough of a warning not to over commit to another aging player? It should be.
In addition to Ribiero, the Rangers should also be avoiding other tempting free agents like Mark Streit andPatrick Elias. They should avoid any player that resembles a player past his prime. This team needs to be careful with their investments this summer and make some careful decisions.
So much of the Ribeiro situation reeks of the Brad Richards scenario: In his early thirties, not great defensively, powerplay specialist, entering free agency following a fine year, and looking for a major commitment from whoever becomes his new employer. The Rangers neutralised Ribeiro this post season, as they did with almost every Capital. He’s not a difference maker who deserves the commitment he’ll likely demand. While he’s a good player, the Rangers need to stop making the same mistakes in free agency and avoid players such as Mike Ribeiro and other aging veterans.