Coyotes sign Ribeiro to 4-year deal

The Phoenix Coyotes spent the past four years searching for

impact players, but didn’t have the money to land many due to the

restraints of being run by the NHL.

Now that an owner is all but in place, the Coyotes were able to

make the kind of big-splash signing that should give them a big

boost on and off the ice.

Landing one of the most coveted offensive players at the start

of the free agency period, the Coyotes signed forward Mike Ribeiro

to a four-year, $22 million contract on Friday.

”Since I came here six years ago, we’ve been searching for a

playmaking center iceman, someone who could make his wingers

better,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. ”Certainly,

Mike’s skill set, his ability to pass the puck, vision on the ice

was an area we had ideally been looking for, so to be able to bring

him to the desert is a really good day for us.”

The Coyotes took a big step toward stability this week when the

Glendale City Council approved an arena lease agreement with

prospective owner Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.

Headed by George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and Daryl Jones, RSE

still needs to complete the lease agreement with Glendale and its

purchase of the Coyotes (by Aug. 5), but has already loosened the

purse strings for the front office.

In addition to Ribeiro, the Coyotes signed free agent goalie

Thomas Greiss to serve as a backup to Mike Smith and re-signed

unrestricted free agent forward Kyle Chipchura to a multi-year

deal. They also signed multi-year deals with forward Lauri

Korpikoski and defensemen Michael Stone, both restricted free

agents, and signed defenseman Chris Summers to a one-year deal.

On top of that, Phoenix was working on locking up a few more

players within in the organization and still has the flexibility to

sign or trade for others.

It added up to a new free agency experience for Maloney and

assistant GM Brad Treliving.

”What was interesting was that there wasn’t a pending free

agent in the marketplace that didn’t call us and want to talk about

coming to Arizona to play hockey,” Maloney said. ”That’s the one

thing I was really encouraged by. Normally, Brad and I are banging

at the phones, `will you please call us’ … and that gets a little

old after a while, so this was such a totally different experience

for Brad and I.”

Their big move was landing the kind of front-line center they

had been seeking almost since moving to the desert in 1996.

The 33-year-old Ribeiro has been a consistent scorer during his

14-year career, topping 50 points in a season eight times. He had

49 points, including 36 assists, in 48 games with Washington last

season.

Ribeiro played three seasons under Coyotes coach Dave Tippett in

Dallas and spent six seasons with Montreal after the Canadiens

picked him in the second round of the 1998 NHL draft.

He could play on the first line with captain Shane Doan and

Mikkel Boedker or could allow Tippett to mix things up with his top

lines.

”Obviously, his relationship with Dave Tippett was a huge

factor in this decision,” Maloney said. ”They developed a very

strong relationship when they were together in Dallas and we’ve

monitored his status and feel like he has lots of life left in

him.”

Landing Ribeiro was the biggest move, but locking up some of the

team’s own players also was key, particularly since the team had

struggled to do that in the past with the NHL running things.

The 27-year-old Chipchura gave the Coyotes toughness and skill

on the fourth line, with five goals and nine assists last

season.

Korpikoski, 26, has developed into a solid playmaker on the left

wing, scoring 40 and 37 points the previous two seasons before

dropping to 11 during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season while

battling injuries.

The 23-year-old Stone spent most of the 2011-12 season in the

AHL, but developed into one of Phoenix’s best defensemen the last

half of the 2012-13 season, finishing with five goals and four

assists.

The Coyotes also are hoping to re-sign Boedker, a restricted

free agent.

The Coyotes weren’t able to retain forward Boyd Gordon, one of

their top offseason priorities, when he signed a three-year deal

with Edmonton. Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera also signed with the

Oilers.

”Boyd was a great player for us and I’m happy for him to get

his contract,” Maloney said. ”That’s the business and they (the

Oilers) certainly value him and had enough in their payroll budget

that they could spend what they wanted to spend. We liked Boyd with

us, we would have liked to keep him, it just got to a point where

we decided we’re going to have to go another direction.”

Losing Gordon was tough, but unlike previous seasons when key

players left, the Coyotes have the support from an owner to get

someone else to take his place.