The Habs leading scorer will be back and looking to do it all over again. It was announced today that Mike Ribeiro has signed his qualifying offer, a one year deal that will see him haul in 1.178 million over the 2005-06 season. Not a bad price for the man who put up 65 points two years ago.
Ribeiro is known all over the league due to some questionable on ice moves (and some spectacular dekes), but the bottom line is that he has more playmaking talent in his pinky finger than most players in this league do in their entire body. He works the puck brilliantly and finds his teammates with ease. And, while his skating may leave a little bit to be desired, in this new look NHL an offensive minded player such as #71 should be able to put up another career year.
He will centre the second line, a line which some may refer to as 1B, with Michael Ryder on one wing, and a plethora of talent vying for a spot on his other flank. Pierre Dagenais, Ribeiro’s linemate both on and off the ice, is a likely candidate to fill the void alongside the two. However, don’t rule out the possibility of a younger, faster, more defensively aware Alexander Perezhogin getting sometime alongside Mr. Ribeiro.
Speaking of Ryder, we should look for him sign for around the same amount as Ribeiro. Both players are in a similiar situation, coming off of career seasons without a whole lot of past success with which to back themselves up.
Ribeiro continued to play throughout the NHL Lockout, scoring at a point per game pace with Espoo in Finland. By signing him to a one year contract, the Habs ensure that they have not locked up a lot of cash in a semi-proven player, though there is no doubt in my mind that Ribs will yet again put a lot of points on the board.
In accepting his qualifying offer, Ribeiro has impressed quite a bit. He appears to be very interested in playing in Montreal, his hometown, for a long time. Along with Radek Bonk, Steve Begin, and Saku Koivu (who is yet to be resigned), the Habs look to be the stronger down the middle than they have in the past decade.
With an increase on divisional play, Ribeiro will have to spend a lot of time playing against the other Northeast Division clubs; Boston, Toronto, Buffalo and Ottawa. In the 2003-04 regular season, the 25-year-old Ribeiro put up 16 points against those four teams.
With Ribeiro and Dagenais locked up, Bob Gainey still has a lot on his plate. Other forwards joining Koivu and Ryder without contracts are Jan Bulis, Marcel Hossa, and Tomas Plekanec. On the backend, Andrei Markov and, of course, Mr. Jose Theodore, are looking to ink a long term deals with the Habs.
Stay tuned, there projects to be a lot of action on the Habs front. Mr. Gainey should be visibly busy, and that’s always a good thing for Les Glorieux.