I think many New York Rangers writers and bloggers have beaten to death the point of how the team lacks center depth. Currently, their first line center is Derek Stepan, who is a pretty solid player, but at this point in his career, he’s far from elite. However, it sounds like New York has filled their needs at center, as VICE Sports is reporting the team has agreed to a two-year, $1.6 million deal with 32-year-old Matt Lombardi.
You’re probably shaking your head as to why this signing even took place at all. Lombardi hasn’t skated on NHL ice since the 2012-13 season, when he was with the Arizona Coyotes and tallied eight points in 28 games. Since then, he’s been playing overseas in the Swiss National League and seems to have found his game. In 46 games, Lombardi scored 20 goals and tallied 50 points with Geneva-Servette.
Lombardi is a player who can excel in head coach Alain Vigneault‘s system. He’s a very fast player who shows his value on the penalty kill. While his speed isn’t on the level of Carl Hagelin or Chris Kreider, Lombardi can still skate very well and work his way to the puck. And at only $1.6 million total for two years, this seems like a strong value signing.
After Stepan and Dominic Moore, Lombardi sounds like a potential third-line center. The strength at the position is weak, yet consistent. This would mean that J.T. Miller ends up as a fourth-line center, which actually might not be a bad thing. Miller shouldn’t be on the fourth line for development purposes, but obviously Vigneault knows what he’s doing so there’s no questions there.
While Lombardi isn’t the sexy signing some fans want, he’s another cheap player who can really come into his own with Vigneault’s system. Don’t expect much offense, but with his speed, he’ll definitely be around the puck when he’s on the ice.