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Instant Analysis: Matthew Lombardi Signing

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Lombardi fills the void created when the Preds traded Jason Arnott to New Jersey, however Lombardi at 28 years old is seven years younger than Arnott and should be just entering the prime seasons of his career.

Lombardi’s speed and solid attention to defensive responsibilities should mesh well with the system Barry Trotz and staff like to run. He was second on the Phoenix Coyotes in both goals and points last season, while contributing to both the power-play and penalty kill units. In his six NHL seasons, Lombardi has 11 career shorthanded goals, including four in ’06-07 when he tied for fifth in the league in the category.

Further, Lombardi has a history of winning. His teams have made the playoffs in five of his six NHL seasons, only missing out in ’08-09 when he moved at the trade deadline to Phoenix from playoff-bound Calgary, and has 40 career NHL playoff games to his credit, including a run to the Stanley Cup Finals as a member of the Calgary Flames in 2004.

Beyond his success in the NHL, Lombardi has won a pair of medals with Team Canada at the World Championships, including the Gold in ’07 when he led Canada with six goals and 12 points (third in the tournament in goals and fourth in points), capped off with a pair of assists in Canada’s 4-2 win over Finland in the Gold Medal Game. He paced Victoriaville to the QMJHL Title his last year in junior hockey and led the Memorial Cup with nine points, earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team.

During his stints with Team Canada, Lombardi played for Coach Trotz, an Assistant Coach on the 2009 World Championship squad. “That was part of the decision process,” Lombardi admitted. “I know (Coach Trotz); I know what type of person he is. I’ve played with guys who have played for him and said great things about him. I really wanted go somewhere where I knew the coach was respected and the guys liked him, so he was definitely part of the decision.”

The addition of Lombardi – along with the recent trades for Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn – gives Nashville significant flexibility among its forwards next season. Nashville has 16 forwards under contract who played at least 20 games in the NHL last season, not including restricted free agents Patric Hornqvist (80 games, 30 goals) and Mike Santorelli (25 games), who are both projected to be signed well in advance of training camp. Nor does it include veteran European free agent Jonas Andersson, who was signed yesterday.

Lombardi, along with Marcel Goc, David Legwand, Cal O’Reilly, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, and Colin Wilson can all hold down the center spot – Smithson, Spaling, and Wilson also have experience on the wing. The abundance of options should make for an interesting (and spirited) training camp … and could leave the door open for more potential trades later in the summer.
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