It’s long been rumored that the Rangers were talking to the Florida Panthers regarding Stephen Weiss, and Katie Strang confirmed that yesterday. Weiss is now out for the season, having undergone wrist surgery. While that path has closed, it appears that E.J. Hradek has mentioned that the Rangers are in on the Caps’ Mike Ribiero. There is no link to this other than the NHL Wiki page, as this was said on NHL Live.
Both Weiss and Ribiero are scoring centers who are not very reliable defensively (-15.5 and -11.3 RCorsi, respectively). The Rangers appear to be set down the middle with Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle, and Jeff Halpern, so this rumor is a bit confusing. But when you dive deeper, it’s not all that surprising to see this.
First things first: Brian Boyle has been underwhelming and has been a healthy scratch for four games this season. While he has been solid defensively, he hasn’t been able to contribute offensively at all, and his skating has regressed to pre-Barbara Underhill days. That’s not a recipe for success with the Rangers.
It’s also widely known that Torts doesn’t want to keep Miller at center, and he is desperately looking to find Miller an offensive minded center (since Miller clearly is not ready defensively yet). Miller likely won’t crack the top-six this season, so that leaves a choice between Boyle and Halpern. Neither are offensive minded, although both are strong defensively and on face offs.
When you look at these two situations, and throw in that the Rangers were in on Weiss, then this Ribiero rumor isn’t exactly irresponsible rumor mongering. It could be tire-kicking, which is to be expected at this time of the year, but Ribiero does fit an apparent need that the Rangers are trying to address. He also fits the mold of a player the Rangers would look to acquire (expiring contract). That said, Ribiero is horrible on face offs (42.4% this year), so any trade would be a significant downgrade in face off effectiveness.
As for cost, the going rate for a Ribiero-type rental has been a prospect and a pick. Since the Caps are horrendous defensively, they might be looking to get an NHL player who is capable of playing smart, defensive hockey. The Rangers have one or two of those as well. This is worth keeping an eye on, even if it does wind up just being tire-kicking.