August 28 2011 05:52AM
There have been hints this summer that Matthew Lombardi, acquired as a salary dump from the Nashville Predators earlier this off-season, may be healthy in time for training camp with the Leafs. Those hints came from people like Kevin Allen and Jeff Marek – reliable sources – and a couple of weeks ago Chemmy looked at where Lombardi might fit into the lineup.
Today, I wanted to spend a little more time looking at the role Lombardi has played over the last three seasons, and what it could mean for the Leafs if he is healthy.
Firstly, I agree with Chemmy on where a healthy Lombardi slots into the depth chart. Mikhail Grabovski has one of the top-two centre roles on the team, and the other should go to oft-injured (and generally undervalued) playmaker Tim Connolly. That leaves Lombardi in the third slot, pushing Tyler Bozak down the depth chart and likely meaning that Kadri starts on the wing. Both of those moves make sense, given how Bozak squandered a golden opportunity last season and the advisability of lessening the defensive responsibilities of a young player like Kadri.
With that out of the way, let’s look at what Lombardi where Lombardi has played and how he’s performed over the last few seasons.
Lombardi has been used in all situations. In Phoenix, where offensive options were more difficult to find up the middle than in Calgary, he played extensively on the power play. In Calgary, his role was more defense-oriented: he killed a lot of penalties.
Power Play Production
Matthew Lombardi’s power play production over the years has not been especially good. His scoring numbers range from poor to mediocre, and the goals-for numbers are in that same range. For the Leafs, this shouldn’t represent a major problem; Tim Connolly is a power play virtuoso and Mikhail Grabovski’s totals are superior to those of Lombardi. This probably isn’t a situation where Lombardi will be employed regularly as a Leaf.
|Season||EVPTS/60||QualComp Rk.||ZoneStart||Rel. Corsi|
What do these numbers show us? They show us a player suited to a role on an even-strength scoring line.
Lombardi’s never been a great player from a Corsi standpoint, though given offensive-zone minutes against middling opposition he’s near the break-even mark. What he is good at is generating offense – his PTS/60 numbers are well above average, easily deserving of heavy minutes were they the only measure of success.
In other words, a healthy Lombardi would be well-suited to the role of third-line center/penalty-killer in Toronto. He can generate offense, and playing with linemates like Kadri and Armstrong (the two players Chemmy suggests) would seem to be ideal – it would give the Leafs a third-line that could put up points and not ask too much of any of the players involved. Lombardi would also be a boon to the Leafs’ woeful penalty kill.
In short, not only would Lombardi be a great fit for the Leafs’ needs, but if healthy he could transform the Franson trade with Nashville from a clear win to a landslide win.