Tale of the tape
HT: 5' 11" WT: 200
HT: 6' 0"
One plays in the Big Apple; the other in the Big D. One has never spent a day in the minors; the other bounced up and down for a few years before becoming an NHL regular. One is coming off a somewhat disappointing season in a new city, the other off a career year in his second season after being traded. Both are centers who are playing for their second NHL teams, are considered among the NHL's best playmakers -- and are being counted on to help their teams make a long playoff run.
So who's better -- Scott Gomez
of the New York Rangers
or Mike Ribeiro
of the Dallas Stars
Though they'll turn 29 within seven weeks of each other (Gomez on Dec. 23, Ribeiro on Feb. 10) during the season, Gomez has by far the more impressive career statistics. But over the past two seasons, Ribeiro has put up more points.
For their careers, Gomez has 136 goals and 534 points in 648 games (.83 points per game), while Ribeiro is 97-216-313 in 453 games (.68 points per game). But since moving to Dallas in 2006, Ribeiro has 160 points in 177 games, while Gomez has 85 points in 100 games as a Ranger.
New Jersey took Gomez No. 27 in the first round of the 1998 Entry Draft and put the Alaskan native right into the lineup when he turned pro a year later. Gomez promptly won the Calder Trophy in 1999-2000 by scoring 19 times and adding 51 assists, then adding 4 goals and 10 points in New Jersey's run to the Stanley Cup. Gomez remained a solid producer on a defense-first team and played on another Cup winner in 2003, contributing 3 goals and 12 points in the postseason.
Gomez had his best season in 2005-06, scoring 33 times (14 more than his previous career high) and adding 51 assists for 84 points. After a 13-goal, 60-point season in 2006-07, he signed with the rival Rangers as a free agent.
Year One on Broadway drew mixed reviews. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder struggled for much of the season, but still finished with 16 goals and 70 points, then went 4-7-11 in 10 playoff games. He has 4 goals and 10 points in 19 games this season.
Ribeiro, a Montreal native, was the Canadiens' second-round choice (No. 45) in the 1999 Draft, but took several years to become a full-time NHL player. After making his NHL debut in 1999-2000 (scoring a goal and adding an assist in 19 games), he bounced up and down between the Canadiens and the AHL until finally sticking with his hometown team for good in 2002-03.
He had a breakout season in 2003-04, scoring 20 goals and putting up 65 points. But he slumped to 16-35-51 in 2005-06, and during the summer the Canadiens dealt him to Dallas for no-longer-in-the-NHL defenseman Janne Niniimaa, a deal that has worked out terrifically for the Stars.
The 6-foot, 178-pounder has topped the Stars in scoring in both of his seasons in Dallas, including a career-best 27-goal, 83-point performance in 2007-08 that put him 13th in the scoring race His 56 assists were 10th in the League, two places ahead of Gomez. Ribeiro added 3 goals and 14 assists in Dallas' run to the Western Conference Finals.
He made the All-Star Game for the first time in his career (facing Gomez, who made it for the second time, but first since 2000) and was rewarded with a five-year contract extension.
Both players make their living as passers rather than scorers. Ribeiro scored his 27 goals on just 107 shots and has never had more than 130 shots on goal. Though he's a much more prolific shooter than Ribeiro (242 last season, 155 or more in each of his eight NHL seasons), Gomez is a lot less accurate (6.6 percent last season, 8.0 lifetime, compared with 25.2 and 16.4 for Ribeiro).
One area in which Gomez has put up markedly better numbers is in the faceoff circle. He won 52.2 percent of his draws in 2006-07 and 52.5 percent last season; Ribeiro won 46.6 percent two years ago and fell to 45.0 percent last season. Neither is very physical: Ribeiro was credited with 53 hits last season, five more than Gomez.
So who's better? You make the call.
Contact John Kreiser at email@example.com