PHILADELPHIA -- We have taken to calling this the offseason of the center with Ryan Kesler being dealt to Anaheim on Friday afternoon and Jason Spezza, Paul Stastny and perhaps even Joe Thornton in play either through trade or free agency.
Add to that list an interesting figure: Mike Ribeiro.
The skilled but troubled pivot was bought out of his contract by the Arizona Coyotes Friday, less than a year after he signed a big four-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.
It is self-evident that Ribeiro did not fit in well with the Coyotes as he was a healthy scratch down the stretch and managed just 47 points -- two fewer than he had a year earlier with Washington during the lockout shortened 2013 season.
Now the question is what kind of value does Ribeiro have as he heads back to free agency?
Arizona GM Don Maloney was unequivocal about what led the Coyotes, a team that would have thought long and hard about a buyout that will cost them almost $2 million against the cap for the next six years, to take the dramatic move of buying Ribeiro out just a year into his deal.
"Mike had some real behavioral issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward," Maloney said Friday.
Certainly there have been rumors of problems that have dogged Ribeiro back to his days in Montreal, but Maloney’s candid comments will be a significant red flag for teams that might be interested in his services.
That said, the need for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks to get better down the middle is acute and one has to imagine that Ribeiro’s flameout in Arizona will blunt his salary demands moving forward.
Would a team like the Blackhawks take a chance on Ribeiro for a year or two to provide a potentially potent one-two punch with captain Jonathan Toews?
Is it possible he could return to point-a-game form for a Cup contender like the Hawks?
Or would the risk of upsetting the Hawks’ dressing room dynamic far outweigh the potential reward?
Would the Capitals, now with a new management and coaching staff from when Ribeiro was enjoying a success in Washington be interested in repatriating him at a significantly lower dollar figure and shorter term?
In spite of the damning comments, it’s hard to imagine that some team won’t take a chance on being able to rehabilitate the 34-year-old. But which one?