NHL: Center Ribeiro fills Coyotes' big need

2013-07-14T00:00:00Z NHL: Center Ribeiro fills Coyotes' big needThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

GLENDALE - Mike Ribeiro had every intention of returning to Washington after one point-a-game season with the Capitals.

When it became clear the Capitals could no longer afford him, the highly-skilled center had one place in mind: Phoenix, where he could reunite with former coach Dave Tippett.

"I wanted to be coached by someone I knew and someone I had a good relationship with," Ribeiro said. "I've always had good coaches, but to have someone I could talk to and be comfortable with, that was important to me."

The Coyotes have been searching for a top-line center seemingly since they moved to the desert in 1996

With its ownership situation close to being resolved, Phoenix finally had the financial flexibility to lure big-name players to the desert. During free agency, the Coyotes landed one of the biggest by signing Ribeiro to a four-year, $22 million deal.

A fast center who has great skill with the puck, Ribeiro gives the Coyotes an immediate upgrade up front, someone who can create scoring chances for himself and his wings, along with giving them a much-needed boost on the power play.

Ribeiro has been a consistent scorer during his 14-year career, topping 50 points in a season eight times. He had 49 - 36 of those assists - in 48 games with Washington last season. He also was the NHL's top power-play scorer last season and joins a team that was among the league's worst with a man advantage.

"If you look at our offseason checklist and if you have 10 of them, the No. 1 thing on our list was finding a creative offensive center that can help our power play," Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. "That's been No. 1 for me for three or four years and to be able to land Mike Ribeiro" is great.

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