August 12 2011 10:40AM
Jeff Marek posted the following on his excellent new blog "The Sheet":
Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Matthew Lombardi will attend training camp. Can't imagine they'd let him jump right back in after missing pretty well all of last season with a concussion but I'd think it'll be 'kid gloves' with Lombardi for a period of time. If he's healthy and no longer feeling the effects of his concussion, Phil Kessel may finally have a playmaking centre who can keep up with his speed.
Lombardi was thought to be the reason the Lebda for Franson swap happened. The theory was that Lombardi would spend the whole year on IR and with two years left on his deal and with no insurance on his contract the Predators wanted to move his salary.
I disagree about Lombardi being a first line pivot for Kessel, Tim Connolly will start the year in that role, but Lombardi gives the Leafs flexibility and dare I say depth at center. Between Grabovski, Connolly and Lombardi the Leafs have some decent options down the middle. Lombardi is fast and can play a checking role as needed but his real strength might be...
... as the third line center. Kadri-Lombardi-Armstrong would give the Leafs a third line with some speed between Kadri and Lombardi, a little grit in Armstrong and in a sheltered scoring role this is a line that could control posession and give Kadri a chance to rack up the boxcar stats.
Matthew Lombardi cost us less than nothing. If he can create a fantastic third line for this team we should be delighted. If he's not quite healthy yet and doesn't come back right away, it's no big deal. That's a great situation to be in for the Leafs.