Nashville desperately needs better offensive players for new head coach Peter Laviolette and the Predators believe they took a very small gamble with the chance for a big reward by signing veteran forwards Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy to one-year contracts.
Predators general manager David Poile called signing Ribeiro a great opportunity to add a talented, experienced and creative centre Tuesday when he introduced the veteran at a media conference. Ribeiro's contract is worth $1.05 million US after being bought out of the final three years of a $22-million contract by the Coyotes recently.
"He knows he's living day to day," Poile said of Ribeiro. "He's on a one-year contract."
James Neal is the most excited #Pred with the Ribeiro signing. Played together in Dallas. Ribeiro says Neal "likes to shoot the puck".— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 15, 2014
Ribeiro has 202 goals and 454 assists in 865 career regular-season games but had only 16 goals and 31 assists in 80 games for the Coyotes last season after his new deal. Arizona GM Don Maloney said Ribeiro had "real behavioural issues" they could not tolerate and that kept Ribeiro available until he and his agent called Poile last week. Ribeiro and his wife even paid for their own airfare, flying to Nashville to spend the past four days in town.
The 34-year-old centre said Tuesday that he was separated from his wife during the season and rarely saw his children. Once the season ended, he said he went to work on his personal life and now has his head clear. He and his wife are looking at buying a house in Nashville.
'I am a good person'
"I'm really glad I have a chance to come here and to prove to everyone that I can still play and that I am a good person and that I'm committed to my family, but to the team, too, and to do well," Ribeiro said. "And I'm glad that I have a chance to do that."
Poile said the Predators did their "due diligence" by talking to former teammates, coaches, managers and others. The general manager also talked to Ribeiro's wife during their visit to Nashville. That made the Predators comfortable with signing Ribeiro.
Roy's deal is worth $1 million. He had nine goals and 28 assists in 75 games for the St. Louis Blues last season. He has 177 goals and 315 assists in 666 career regular-season games, but he said in a conference call Tuesday afternoon that he has spent this summer working in Toronto after dealing with knee and shoulder injuries.
He hopes to regain the form that saw him score more than 63 points in four straight seasons in Buffalo.
"It's been a tough few years bouncing around, and hopefully this is going to be good for me and I know that," said Roy, who has been with Dallas, Vancouver and St. Louis over the past two seasons.
It's been a busy off-season for Nashville after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. The Predators not only replaced Barry Trotz with Laviolette, they also swapped a couple players to Pittsburgh for James Neal and signed Olli Jokinen. Roy will help replace centre Mike Fisher, who is out up to six months after rupturing his Achilles tendon this summer.
Poile said the Predators could have up to six new forwards once the season starts, which should help a team led in scoring by defenceman and captain Shea Weber last season.
"These are significant additions to change the way our team has played," Poile said.
In other Predators news, the team has signed two picks from June's draft to three-year, entry-level contracts.
Kevin Fiala, 17, of Sweden was the 11th selection overall and a finalist for the Swedish Hockey League's rookie of the year award.
Viktor Arvidsson, their fourth-round selection, ranked ninth with 40 points in the Swedish Hockey League in the 2013-14 season.