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Re-signing Mike Ribeiro is Vital


Mike Ribeiro was the best free agent acquisition in the league this last summer. The icing on the cake is the contract is only worth $1.05 million. By now everyone has heard his story, Ribeiro was bought out of his four-year $22 million deal by the Arizona Coyotes just a year after signing the contract.

The Coyote’s GM bluntly told the media the reasoning for the buyout was Mike’s presumable behavioral issues over the past season, and the team had to cut ties with the 34 year old center. Ribeiro sought out Nashville to rejuvenate his career, and the rest is history.

The centerman has anchored the first line for the Predators and given them a top producing number one center that they have lacked for quite some time. The veteran has compiled 43 points on the season with a team leading 33 assists. Ribeiro is without question an integral part of Nashville’s resurgence to the top of the standings.

With the incredible turnaround season he has produced, an obvious raise will be ensured when free agency comes around in the summer. Top centers are arguably the most sought after position in the NHL every year, so Ribeiro will have many suitors. While he will turn 35 in February, he can still play at a high level and looks to have miles left in the tank.

When you look around the league, low end number one and top number two centers are in the range of $5 million per year, but for the most part are in their prime unlike Ribeiro. The fact remains he will be looking to cash in as anyone would off his rebound year. The demand for his services will increase with the lack of accomplished forwards in the free agent pool for this upcoming summer. He will be arguably the best center option along with Antoine Vermette and even teammate Mike Fisher, if he keeps up his scoring pace. After that, it is a huge dropoff into the abyss for a suitable producing forward down the middle. This will cause a bidding war which will in turn inevitably increase the size of the contract.

David Poile must re-sign Ribeiro sooner rather than later. Everyone can see the success the Predators are experiencing this season, and they can’t afford to take a step back by allowing Ribeiro to walk. He makes everyone on the ice better with his impeccable vision and passing ability while going against the opposition’s toughest matchup every night. Mike Fisher’s great season is no coincidence due to the fact he is slotted into a perfect number two center position and thus receiving better matchups than previous years as the team’s top line center.

Nashville does not currently have a replacement for an absent Ribeiro in the organization. Fisher is a great second line guy and Calle Jarnkrok is developing into a solid two way player, but Jarnkrok most likely will top out as a second line center. In Milwaukee, Colton Sissons could become an NHL center, but probably in a bottom six role. The Predators did select Russian centerman Vladislav Kamenev in the second round this past draft. While watching him in the world juniors, he is a big body guy with good playmaking ability, but didn’t particularly stand out and seems to need more development time before making the step into the NHL.

The center position is lacking compared to the depth of good, young defenseman and prospects Kevin Fiala, Viktor Arvidsson, and Brendan Leipsic all playing on the wing. While Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg have experience playing down the middle, it would be puzzling to have them switch from their current wing positions with both having fantastic seasons thus far.

Nashville has the cap space to retain Ribeiro and will have an array of players’ contracts coming off the books after the season.. The Predators have other free agent concerns with restricted players such as Wilson, Jarnkrok, and Smith that are essential to the future along with Fisher maybe continuing his career as a Predator if the numbers work out. With all that said, Ribeiro is the key to maintaining the success Nashville has created and serves as a perfect bridge over the next few years until a top center is produced.