On The Leafs’ Cheap Forward Radar: Promote a Marlie


One of us is taking Lombardi’s job. -Photo Credit- AP 

If you’ve been following along we’ve been taking a look at how the Leafs can best address the many many glaring holes in the roster over the past few weeks. Cam looked at the goaltending, and JP took a look at #1C. I’ve been investigating how the Leafs can fill two Top 9 Forward spots as cheaply as possible. In my last post I suggested it’s time for Kadri to take Colby Armstrong’s place on the roster. This leaves one more spot open.  I’d like to take a look at a few more options for a Matthew Lombardi replacement before we start looking outside the organization. As previously stated, the main thing this forward needs to be is cheap, and the best way to ensure cost effectiveness is by using players on ELC or RFA contracts.

Thankfully the Leafs have a number of options when it comes to replacing Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi had 8 goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 62 games played this past season. He also carried a $3.5M cap-hit. While he was a cost of ridding us of Lebda and acquiring Franson, he is not going to be part of the team’s future. At this point he’s simply taking ice-time away from a younger, cheaper player.

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Predicting point production using AHL numbers isn’t an exact science. Yesterday, Cam took a look at the NHL equivalences of a few Marlies this past season.

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Nazem Kadri C 12 29
Matt Frattin RW 16 26
Carter Ashton RW 12 21
Joe Colborne C 8 21

All of these players would give you more production than Lombardi at a fraction of the cost. While these players are not guaranteed to hit those targets both Kadri and Frattin have shown the ability to contribute offensively in the NHL. The important thing is that all of these players are cheap, and potentially part of the Leafs’ long-term plans.

My ideal solution to the issue would be to let these four players fight for two spots on the third line in training camp and during the pre-season. I think the Leafs would find success if they used that line as a sheltered scoring line, but Burke and Carlyle may have other ideas.

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There is the chance that Burke and Carlyle will want to use the 3rd line in more of a checking/defensive role. If that is the case than Kadri and one of Frattin, Ashton, or Colborne are not the ideal candidate for this vacancy. In my next post I’ll take a look at some of the options both in-house and UFA available if the Leafs are considering using the 3rd line as a checking/shutdown line and as an opportunity to insert a veteran into the line-up.  

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  • beloch

    I fully expect Kadri and Frattin to be on the team next season. Frattin was a decent contributor this past season and was really good for the Marlies in the palyoffs and if Kadri is not ready now, he never will be. It’s his time to show what he can do and he has to be given the chance. Ashton and Colborne I think need more time to develop. Colborne had an up and down seasons and Ashton played 15 games for the Leafs at the end of the season and he contributed somewhere between a very little and absolutely nothing. Zero points and a -10 and really didn’t show many signs that he was ready for the NHL.

    Frattin could be used on a third line checking line and Kulemin is also an option opening up a spot for Kadri on the second line. Ideally I think you would like a third line checking line that can also score a goal or two and putting Kulemin on that line will accomplish that. Find a nice 2-way center (Jarret Stoll would be awesome) to play between Frattin and Kulemin and I think you have the makings of an excellent defensive third line which could also chip in ~40 goals.

    • Danny Gray

      I like this idea. I think Burke will want to go with a checking line as well, although I have to think David Steckel will be the C. My next post will look at exactly this.