Mike Ribeiro is not going to fall off the face of the earth. In fact, since moving to a more remote hockey outpost in Dallas from Montreal, Ribeiro has gone from useful to all-out productive player. He’s on pace for 41 goals and 87 points this year, which would better his previous career best by 22 points.
Ribeiro, who signed a five year, $25 million contract extention Monday, is a highly skilled player just entering his prime. And for all those fans worried Ribeiro’s star is more shooting than super, it’s worth noting there’s been steady progression in his game over the last handful of seasons. He led the Habs in scoring during the last Dead Puck Era year in 2003-04 and, after an off-year the first season after the lockout, he led all Dallas scorers last year and is poised to do so again.
The tactic of GMs paying (or in some cases, overpaying) for play they anticipate on the horizon, rather than viewed in the past, has morphed from trend to standard practice. Dallas’ two-headed management monster of Brett Hull and Les Jackson feared if Ribeiro, who turns 28 Feb. 10, wasn’t locked up some overzealous GM would offer him God knows how much money upon becoming an unrestricted free agent in July.
That fretting was justified. Point-a-game players don’t grow on trees in the NHL.
Ribeiro’s resume certainly cries out for reward louder than that of some other players who’ve squeezed out lucrative deals based more on projection than previous action. Tell me again what Matt Carle has done to justify a four-year deal worth more than $3 million annually from the Sharks?
The only buyer beware that applies in Ribeiro’s case has to do with the fact Dallas has slotted him in as its No. 1 pivot for the next five years. That, along with a minute-munching blueline stud and top-flight goalie, is one of hockey’s holy trio of positions that must be filled by any team with Cup aspirations.
Ribeiro will produce points on an elite level, but overall his game is more Pierre Turgeon than Steve Yzerman. Or vintage Mike Modano for that matter.
Future Western Conference playoff grudge matches will see the slight Ribeiro lining up versus the likes of Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Getzlaf is on pace for one less point than Ribeiro and about 1,000 more hits and intimidating glares. In addition to scoring more than Ribeiro, Zetterberg attacks and defends with equal enthusiasm.
Dallas will get points from it’s $5 million man, but the less tangible aspects might be another story.