New Phoenix Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro has played his best offensive hockey for coach Dave Tippett.
Twice he dished 56 assists for the Tippett-coached Dallas Stars. Now he hopes to deliver similar production for Tippett in the Valley of the Sun.
Ribeiro did a stellar job in Washington last season, scoring 49 points in 48 games while seeing a lot of Alex Ovechkin. When the Capitals opted not to buck up some free agent dollars to keep him, Ribeiro signed a four-year, $22 million deal with the Coyotes.
He hopes to succeed where newcomer Antoine Vermette failed the Coyotes (just 21 points in 48 games) last season. Ribeiro has produced 40 or more assists six times in his career.
“He gives us a legitimate top center,” Tippett told NHL.com. “He understands the game very well. I think his skill level is something we didn't have and needed to add to our group. I've had some real good experience with him. I think he'll be a great fit for our team.”
Ribeiro could center Mikkel Boedker and speedy Radim Vrbata next season. Or perhaps power forward Shane Doan and one of the younger forwards (Max Domi, Chris Brown, Henrik Samuelsson) could flank him.
Boedker seemed headed for a breakout season – scoring 15 points in his first 20 games after the lockout – but then he cooled off. Perhaps a true playmaking center will bring the best out of him.