As trade rumors around the NHL pick up, more and more mid-level players are being talked about. On Friday, the name Matthew Lombardi of the Toronto Maple Leafs was rumored to be on the trade market as per Sportsnet.
Phoenix Coyotes fans may remember Lombardi for the season and a half he spent in the desert. Lombardi developed chemistry on a line with Scottie Upshall. Those two players were referred to as “peanut butter and jelly.” Lombardi played 97 games with the Coyotes scoring 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 points and being +10.
Lombardi left for Nashville after the 2009-2010 season for more money and signed a 3-year $10.5 million contract. Unfortunately for Lombardi and the Predators, a concussion cost Lombardi all but two games of the 2010-2011 season. He was then traded to Toronto in the off-season.
Last season in Toronto, Lombardi played in 62 games and scored eight goals and added 10 assists. A far cry from his point totals in Phoenix. Lombardi is entering his final year of his $3.5 million per year contract at age 30. Lombardi, appearing to have his concussion issues behind him, should have a few solid years left of hockey.
The question is: should the Coyotes go after him and at what price? Yes the Coyotes should inquire about Lombardi. While his contract is still high, there is only one year remaining and he will surely sign at a discounted price next season. The Coyotes could use another forward and Lombardi could slip in to the 3rd line centerman role between Lauri Korpikoski and David Moss. That would be a speedy line that can create offense while being responsible defensively. Then, Boyd Gordon could slide onto the 4th line with Raffi Torres and Kyle Chipchura creating a true checking line with some offensive ability. I could see Lombardi having a 15 goal, 45 point season in that slot if healthy.
The next question is who should the Coyotes give up for Lombardi in a trade? Toronto could use defensive help and boy do we have some. David Schlemko or Chris Summers (if he gets signed) for Lombardi would be good for both sides. Otherwise a 3rd round draft pick for Lombardi would be fair as well.
The Coyotes have a little over $10 million in cap spending needed to get to the floor. Shane Doan and another forward (Lombardi?) still need to be signed. The Coyotes may decide to extend the contracts of goaltender Mike Smith and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who are both entering the final year of their contracts, in order to fill the remaining cap space after Doan and another forward are signed.
NOTES: Coyotes signed forward Nick Johnson on Thursday to a 1-year $725,000 contract. Johnson as a rookie last season for Minnesota scored eight goals and 26 points in 77 games. Johnson may compete for the 4th line role with Paul Bissonette and Brendan Shinnimin while Raffi Torres is suspended.