MikeRibeiro

 

Who is the better centerman to own in fantasy hockey - Brad Richards or Mike Ribeiro?

 

This week’s Cage Match focuses on two players – Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro – who seem to have spent much of their careers either rising above or falling below expectations. But who will fare better for the rest of 2013-14, and is more likely to help your team more in the next few seasons?

 

Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Hit

Richards might be a bit younger (turning 34 in May) than Ribeiro (just turned 34), but he’s actually played in 116 more NHL games thanks to jumping straight from juniors to the NHL. Plus, despite the fact that Ribeiro was a higher 1998 draft pick (45th overall, versus Richards going 64th), he ended up spending at least part of each season in the AHL until 2003-04. Interestingly, from 2007-08 through 2010-11, they were teammates on the Dallas Stars.

Richards has had two sensational seasons, tallying 91 points first with the Lightning in 2005-06 and again on Dallas in 2009-10. But he’s never actually finished a season with 80-90 points; instead, his next highest total was 79 points back in 2003-04 (although he did post 77 points in 72 games in 2010-11). Ribeiro had a great stretch of hockey with the Stars from 2007 to 2009, racking up 161 points in 158 games. But only one other time has Ribeiro managed to crack the 70 point mark, and two of his better seasons came when he missed at least eight games due to injury.

Last season was newsworthy for both players, with Richards once again falling short of sky high expectations in his second campaign with the Rangers, while Ribeiro tied for the NHL lead in PP points on his way to posting 49 points in 48 games with the Capitals. Fast forward to now, and they find themselves right next to each other in scoring, with Ribeiro disappointingly sitting at 40 points in 58 games and Richards not faring much better with only 42 through 59 contests.

Richards is (in)famously signed through 2019-20 on a deal that brings with it a $6.67M cap hit (21st among forwards), while Ribeiro is on year one of a four year deal that has a $5.5M cap hit (tied for 42nd). Ribeiro is the highest paid Coyote forward, while with all the whispers about Richards’ contract it’s easy to forget that he’s only the second highest paid Ranger forward (Rick Nash makes $7.8M).

 

Ice Time/Linemates

Neither of these guys has received more than a nominal amount of SH Ice Time per game in these past few seasons. Because of that, I added PP points per game and minutes of PP Ice Time per PP point in place of SH Ice Time.

 

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (with rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (with rank among team’s forwards)

PP points per game and

Minutes of PP Ice Time per PP point

2013-14

18:31 (M.R.) – 4th

19:01 (B.R.) – 1st

3:31 (M.R.) – 1st

3:48 (B.R.) – 1st

0.20 and 17:00 (M.R.)

0.25 and 15:00 (B.R.)

2012-13

17:50 (M.R.) – 4th

18:48 (B.R.) – 4th

3:25 (M.R.) – 3rd

3:16 (B.R.) – 1st

0.56 and 6:05 (M.R.)

0.19 and 16:45 (B.R.)

2011-12

20:02 (M.R.) – 1st

20:15 (B.R.) – 2nd

2:51 (M.R.) – 1st

4:09 (B.R.) – 1st

0.20 and 14:05 (M.R.)

0.29 and 14:15 (B.R.)

2010-11

19:57 (M.R.) – 3rd

21:43 (B.R.) – 1st

3:51 (M.R.) – 2nd

5:20 (B.R.) – 1st

0.28 and 13:45 (M.R.)

0.40 and 13:12 (B.R.)

 

Since coming to New York, Richards has contended with lower Ice Time both overall and, in particular, on the PP. But it’s not like his poor play is costing him Ice Time relative to his teammates, since his 19:01 per game this season is the highest (by 30 seconds) among Ranger forwards. And his 42 points in 1123 minutes of total Ice Time this season translates to one point per roughly every 26:45; so if he was back to getting the 21:43 minutes per game he received as recently as 2010-11, then that would have resulted in about 160 minutes of added Ice Time thus far this season, and, at his current points scoring pace, perhaps another five points. Not a huge difference, but worth noting. We can also see that his PP scoring pace is improved compared to last season, which is a positive sign, although it still lags well behind his productive (77 points in 72 games) 2010-11 season.

Ribeiro’s amazing 2012-13 season with Washington seems like it has the makings of an outlier given how little Ice Time he received; we’ll look into that below. Either way, the fact that his PP scoring rate for 2013-14 so far is the worst it’s been in these four seasons (despite receiving the most PP Ice Time among the Coyotes, who happen to have the league’s seventh best PP percentage) is not a positive sign.

Let’s also examine Frozen Pool data to see if lesser quality linemates might be tied to either player’s recent (past two seasons for Richards; this season for Ribeiro) decrease in production.

 

Ribeiro (2012-13)

 

 

14.21%

EV

25 CHIMERA,JASON - 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER - 9 RIBEIRO,MIKE

13.78%

EV

20 BROUWER,TROY - 21 LAICH,BROOKS - 9 RIBEIRO,MIKE

12.01%

EV

20 BROUWER,TROY - 10 ERAT,MARTIN - 9 RIBEIRO,MIKE

11.98%

EV

26 HENDRICKS,MATT - 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER - 9 RIBEIRO,MIKE

68.84%

PP

19 BACKSTROM,NICKLAS - 20 BROUWER,TROY - 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER - 9 RIBEIRO,MIKE

 

Ribeiro (2013-14)

 

19.56%

EV

19 DOAN,SHANE - 18 MOSS,DAVID - 63 RIBEIRO,MIKE

10.8%

EV

36 KLINKHAMMER,ROBERT - 18 MOSS,DAVID - 63 RIBEIRO,MIKE

52.01%

PP

11 HANZAL,MARTIN - 63 RIBEIRO,MIKE - 17 VRBATA,RADIM

18.72%

PP

19 DOAN,SHANE - 63 RIBEIRO,MIKE - 50 VERMETTE,ANTOINE

 

Richards (2012-13)

 

22.88%

EV

10 GABORIK,MARIAN - 61 NASH,RICK - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD

13%

EV

62 HAGELIN,CARL - 61 NASH,RICK - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD

8.26%

EV

29 CLOWE,RYANE - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD - 36 ZUCCARELLO,MATS

23.77%

PP

24 CALLAHAN,RYAN - 61 NASH,RICK - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD - 21 STEPAN,DEREK

 

Richards (2013-14)

 

31.42%

EV

24 CALLAHAN,RYAN - 62 HAGELIN,CARL - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD

23.3%

PP

20 KREIDER,CHRIS - 61 NASH,RICK - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD - 21 STEPAN,DEREK

22.21%

PP

16 BRASSARD,DERICK - 67 POULIOT,BENOIT - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD - 36 ZUCCARELLO,MATS

10.07%

PP

24 CALLAHAN,RYAN - 19 RICHARDS,BRAD - 21 STEPAN,DEREK - 36 ZUCCARELLO,MATS

 

This is bad news for Richards, since in 2012-13 and so far in 2013-14 (in which he’s cumulatively scored 76 points in 105 games) his most frequent line pairings have featured among the best Ranger forwards. Sure, a “chicken and egg” argument can be made as to exactly whose poor play is hurting whom; but in the end Richards is the second highest paid Ranger forward, so if his lines aren’t producing then blame will rightfully fall squarely on his shoulders.

As for Ribeiro, it’s not surprising to see that his productive season with Washington in 2012-13 was spent lining up with their talented players, especially on the PP. But fast forward to 2013-14 and at even strength he’s mainly stapled to the likes of David Moss (career high of 39 points), Rob Klinkhammer (his 17 points this season is already a career high), and Shane Doan (who hasn’t topped 60 since 2008-09). And while his linemate situation is a better on the PP, that alone can’t dig Riberio’s points out of a hole. It’s basically a good news, bad news situation in that while his subpar performance this season really isn’t his fault, it’s also likely to continue if he’s stuck on poor even strength lines.

One quick further note – if you subscribe to my “relative value of points” theory, then Ribeiro has some added value versus Richards because Ribeiro’s linemates are far less owned compared to Richards’ (i.e., an argument can be made that Ribeiro’s points are more valuable than Richards’ since they’re less likely to be shared among owned players in your league).

 

Other Metrics


Season

Shots (per game)

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting Percentage (5x5)

PDO (5x5)

Offensive Zone Start Percentage (5x5)

2013-14

 

1.53 (M.R.)

3.25 (B.R.)

15.7 (M.R.)

7.8 (B.R.)

7.50% (M.R.)

7.11% (B.R.)

983 (M.R.)

997 (B.R.)

71.0% (M.R.)

68.1% (B.R.)

2012-13

 

1.31 (M.R.)

2.39 (B.R.)

20.6 (M.R.)

10.0 (B.R.)

9.03% (M.R.)

8.27% (B.R.)

1012 (M.R.)

1011 (B.R.)

50.8% (M.R.)

63.4% (B.R.)

2011-12

 

1.92 (M.R.)

2.79 (B.R.)

12.7 (M.R.)

10.9 (B.R.)

9.52% (M.R.)

8.72% (B.R.)

1016 (M.R.)

997 (B.R.)

53.7% (M.R.)

54.4% (B.R.)

2010-11

1.96 (M.R.)

3.77 (B.R.)

11.8 (M.R.)

10.3 (B.R.)

10.69% (M.R.)

10.70% (B.R.)

1007 (M.R.)

1036 (B.R.)

53.3% (M.R.)

53.5% (B.R.)

 

The good news for Ribeiro is his 2012-13 season with Washington wasn’t a significant outlier. Sure, his individual shooting percentage was high; but considering his career number is 14.8% and the fact that he only had 63 total shots for the season, the added percentage led to perhaps four more goals. Also, his team shooting percentage and PDO were well within reasonable ranges. And while it’s not ideal that his shots totals have dropped over the past two seasons, we can also see that his team shooting percentage and PDO numbers for 2013-14 are his lowest among the past four seasons, suggesting that he might be due for a positive “market correction” over the rest of this season and perhaps into next season as well.

For Richards, his Shots total is over three per game for the first time since he’s donned a Rangers sweater; however, that’s been accompanied by a big drop in his individual and team shooting percentages. He’s also received a jaw dropping 71.0% of his starts in the offensive zone this season, so it’s discouraging that he’s been unable to translate that into more points. Plus, we can see that his 77 point in 72 game 2010-11 season coincided with a PDO of 1037, which is above what’s considered the normal range. These are not encouraging numbers for Richards, or his fantasy owners.

As for other statistics, Richards is above average in blocked shots but terrible in PIMs, while Ribeiro is pretty good in hits and okay in PIMs. Neither guy will help or hurt your team in plus/minus.

 

Health/Longevity/Buyout Possibility

Despite their ages, neither player has missed more than ten games in any of the past four seasons; and only Richards has ever missed a large chunk of a season (way back in 2007-08). That being said, Ribeiro has only four seasons of 80+ games, while Richards has eight, so Ribeiro is a bit less reliable. In terms of longevity, both play a “pass first” style of hockey (neither has scored 30 goals in a season) that doesn’t rely on speed. At this point, it’s conceivable that both could play well into their thirties while remaining fairly productive.

A big question is whether either player will be bought out by his current team during the offseason, since consider that among the forwards who were bought out before the 2013-14 season and managed to sign with another team, only one (Mikael Grabovski) is currently averaging more than 0.5 points per game. So while being bought out doesn’t in and of itself mean a player is finished in terms of being fantasy worthy, it does suggest that his best days really could be behind him.

And while much is made of Richards’ mega-deal with the Rangers, the cap hit is only a little over $1M per season more than Ribeiro’s and only lasts three additional seasons (Nash is being paid $1.2M more, through 2017-18). Plus, the Rangers have a less cost conscious history than Phoenix and only have one of their compliance buyouts remaining, compared to Phoenix’s two.

 

Who Wins?

Things are not looking great for either player. With Ribeiro, he’s stuck being the number two center on a team with no fantasy worthy wingers beyond those (Mikael Boedker, Radim Vrbata) centered by Martin Hanzal on the first line. But if there’s a silver lining for Ribeiro, it’s that things likely can’t get much worse, as his wingers can only improve down the road and his metrics suggest that his point totals might be at least somewhat artificially low.

For Richards, he’s under a microscope both in terms of fantasy hockey and real hockey, making his recent struggles seem all the more pronounced. Don’t get me wrong – he’s not performing well, especially when considering the length and cap hit of his contract. But in his defense he’s not getting the big minutes he received when he was producing at a higher level, and his PDO number in New York has only once been over 1000. On the other hand, he’s playing with far better quality players than Ribeiro, so his lack of production comes with fewer excuses and justifications.

In the end, I think Ribeiro is the better own, since it’s easier to envision his situation improving both for the rest of this season and in the next few campaigns. Plus, the fact that Richards is still owned in 84% of Yahoo leagues (compared to 76% for Ribeiro, as well as 82% for Bryan Little, 81% for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 78% for T.J. Oshie, and 63% for Paul Stastny) suggests that Richards not only is currently overvalued, but could remain overvalued. After all, he’s now put up subpar stats for nearly 200 games with the Rangers, so you’d think that would’ve taken a bigger toll on his ownership percentage by now.

At this point it’s worth trying to use Richards’ inflated value to your advantage and sell before he truly bottoms out (or gets bought out), while it’s best to keep Ribeiro if you have him, and perhaps even look to acquire him for a decent cost before a likely bounce back in his points.

 

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