The Phoenix Coyotes were in desperate need of another center, and Matthew Lombardi had fallen out of favour in Toronto.
It didn’t take too much thought to realize that there was a deal to be had between the Leafs and the Coyotes. Lombardi put up a career high 53 points in 2009-2010 season for the Phoenix Coyotes on top of 16 points in 19 games the year before after being acquired from the Calgary Flames.
After leaving Phoenix, Lombardi had struggled with injury issues which included a concussion in 2010-2011. According to reports Lombardi has spent this offseason skating with Shane Doan to get back into shape. With the Coyotes lacking center depth, Maloney pulled the trigger on a deal that has the potential for a high reward, with very little risk. Phoenix received Lombardi in exchange for a fourth round draft pick, which becomes a third rounder in Lombardi re-signs after this season.
Lombardi is expected to line up between Lauri Korpikoski and David Moss. All three of those players have speed to burn and it could make for some very entertaining hockey. With the Lombardi addition and already having Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker on the roster, the Coyotes will be able to outskate most of the teams in the NHL.
Lombardi’s visa issues have been taken care of and it is expected that he’ll be in the lineup tonight against the Dallas Stars.
Game Day Preview
Ray Whitney will play Phoenix for the first time since leaving the team this off-season to sign with the Stars. What a way to open up the season.
Martin Hanzal was linemates with Whitney last season. He had the duty of helping create space for Whitney by using his big frame, but tonight he will be using his big frame for an entirely different purpose. He will be counted on to shut down Whitney and the other big name player on the Stars such as Derek Roy and Loui Eriksson.
The Phoenix Coyotes have won five on their seven season openers since the 2004-2005 lockout. If the Coyotes use their speed and outwork the Stars with a relentless forecheck, they will be successful tonight. Goaltender Mike Smith is in a contract year, so look for him to get off to a hot start along with Mikkel Boedker who was a goal scoring machine in Finland this year.
Let’s (finally) drop the puck.