The Franson/Lombardi trade is a trade that can’t fully be evaluated right now; it’s a set-up move for other options down the line, specifically moving Lombardi’s contract off the books. This move now gives the Preds the flexibility to be active in the off-season market. And the trade also speaks to the tremendous depth of talented defensemen the Preds have accumulated. As much as Franson brought to the ice, he only averaged 15:10 of ice time last season and with the emergence of Jon Blum (who averaged 17:42 during the regular season and 18:51 a game during the playoffs) and return of Francis Bouillon
, there was no guarantee Franson would be able work his way into a more prominent role for the Preds in 2011-12.
“Unfortunately Lombardi’s concussion early last season and relatively lack of recovery to date left us in a position of uncertainty heading into this season, which made it difficult for us to plan,” Preds GM David Poile said. “This move allows us more certainty with our roster heading into this season. Now it’s my job to build around the strong core we have in place and when the opportunity presents, I’d like to strike to help make that core even better.”
Nashville’s defense looks impressive with Weber and Suter back at the top pairing, Klein and Blum, a strong pairing for the Preds during the playoffs, a potential second pairing, and Bouillon, a 20:00 a night guy last season, back healthy for the start of ’11-12. Add in Lebda, a playoff-proven battler from his time in Detroit, plus someone from the talented young quartet of Mattias Ekholm
, Ryan Ellis
, Roman Josi
and Teemu Laakso
and Nashville’s rotation of blueliners should remain one of the league’s elite … with one of the best goaltending tandems in the league backing them up.
Today’s move is more about opening up options to improve the team’s production up front. And keep in mind, Nashville has had significant success finding the correct fits later in the free agency period. Yanick Perreault was a 20+ goal, 50+ point contributor signed late in the 2005 free agency period. J-P Dumont was signed late in the Summer of 2006 and surpassed the 60-point mark in each of his first three seasons with the club. Joel Ward and Sergei Kostitsyn
were under the radar moves and both made key contributions during their first season with the Preds.
“We’ve had good success waiting for the right players later in the summer,” Poile said. “We don’t need to just sign someone, we need to sign the right people. Some times that presents itself on July 1, some times it’s September 1. We have time before the season starts and we’ll stay active in looking for ways to improve our team. But we still feel like we’ve got one of the best defenses in the league between the goaltending and defensemen, we’re very comfortable in how we shape up there. There are a lot of things we like about our forwards, but obviously that’s an area we’re going to continue to monitor to see how we can improve, much like we did when we brought in Mike Fisher