Nashville Predators Take Calculated Risk with Mike Ribeiro Signing

By Casey Drottar
Getty Images
Getty Images

The Nashville Predators had a hole to fill at center. They were recently dealt a blow when they found out Mike Fisher ruptured his Achilles tendon, and the team needed to act quickly to replace him.

They did so today, signing both Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro to one year deals. While Roy is a low-risk signing, the same might not be said for Ribeiro.

The 15-year vet came into last season hoping to build off the success of his 2012-13 campaign, in which he scored 49 points in 48 games with the Washington Capitals. However, after signing with the Phoenix Coyotes, Ribeiro saw a drop-off in production. He scored two less points, but also did so while playing 32 more games than the year before. Phoenix was quick to buy him out this offseason, and did so with some parting shots.

“Mike had some real behavioral issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney. He continued to hammer home the fact that Phoenix didn’t buy out Ribeiro for financial purposes, merely to get rid of a bad apple.

The behavioral issues Maloney is likely referring to relate to Ribeiro’s struggles with alcohol. He was arrested for public intoxication in 2010, and felt the need to address the issues again in 2013. Maloney claims Ribeiro is seeking help this summer to try and get back on the right path.

Regardless, Nashville is taking a bit of a risk in signing someone who was just bought out because his problems were too much for Phoenix to deal with.

For what it’s worth, Predators GM David Poile claims the team had “done their due diligence” before signing Ribeiro, which is mildly reassuring. If the front office failed to talk with Ribeiro about past issues and whether or not they would affect him moving forward, it would be significantly negligent. However, we don’t really know what Poile defines as “due diligence,” so that’s really anyone’s guess.

On the plus side, they didn’t break the bank for Ribeiro. After being bought out of his $22 million deal with Phoenix, Ribeiro signed for just $1 million with Nashville. The size of the deal is very easy for the team to swallow, and it also makes the forward easily movable if his well-noted problems creep up again.

Additionally, there’s potential for this to work out more than just financially for the Predators. Ignoring last year’s struggles with the Coyotes, Ribeiro has actually been contributing a lot in the past few seasons. In the 204 games he played before joining Phoenix, he scored 183 points, just a little under point-per-game progress. With 454 career assists and a new winger in James Neal, Ribeiro could really flourish with Nashville.

However, it all comes back to those aforementioned issues, the ones that, apparently, single-handedly resulted in his getting booted out of Phoenix. If Ribeiro can’t control his demons, the Preds may have to cut bait quick. The team is looking to bounce back from a few rough seasons, and something like a player struggling with alcohol problems won’t help the cause.

Nashville is taking a leap of faith in signing the troubled Ribeiro. At the same time, thanks to their bringing him in cheap and for a short term, it’s a well-planned leap of faith. It may appear the Predators are taking a risk, but they’ve given themselves an out if the signing backfires, and they’ll look even better if it doesn’t.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook

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