Continuing our look through the available free agents, we keep the focus on the position everyone is most concerned with. The question of the second line center has been a dominant one since Mikko Koivu took the role of top line center, and despite several
attempts tries blundering missteps, the position is still wide open.
Next on the list, Matthew Lombardi, currently of the Phoenix Coyotes. Make the jump, stick with us.
#15 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 18, 1982
|2009 - Matthew Lombardi||78||19||34||53||8||36||4||0||2||0||174||10.9|
Current Cap Hit: $1.817 million
Nathan: Loved him last year, loved him this year, would love him in the future. Now, why he doesn't have a long-term deal with Phoenix is beyond me, and likely has something to do with their ownership issue. That could be beneficial to Lombardi and the NHL in general. Lombardi is the second-best center on the market right now, and I can't imagine he's going to stay in Phoenix.
Now, Lombardi is not a #1 guy. He's less than mediocre in the circle, not a massive scorer, but has good vision and is coming into his prime. Put him between Martin Havlat and Guillaume Latendresse, and wow, that's a scary line.
Verdict: 3 years, $2.8M/year and make the offer while everyone else is courting Tomas Plekanec.
Buddha: How the Coyotes have not locked him up already is beyond me. 53 points, only 27 years old, and one of the key parts of their success. The Yotes do have 8 UFAs and 5 RFAs on their current roster, so maybe they are just busy. However, as Russo pointed out, at this point it is more likely a player like Lombardi goes to the open market rather than simply re-signing.
Will he fit on the team? Without a doubt. Judging by points, Lombardi is the Yotes top center. Judging by faceoffs taken, he is their third line center. Sounds to me like the makings of a perfect number two guy. 174 SOG would rank him third on the Wild. Not the biggest guy in the world, but still has some size, so he could certainly win some battles if he put his mind to it.
A good fit, but what is his asking price?
Verdict: 3 years, 2.4 million per, make the offer early and maybe get lucky.
JS: Matthew Lombardi: He would be a pretty interesting choice if you ask me, but odds are he won't be available. 53 points in 78 games, not too bad in the faceoff circle and great speed, which is one of his greatest assets. In that sense, he could show some good chemistry with Havlat and BTE and be comparable to Butch. On the other hand, if we're going to put a shifty little center on the 2nd line, might as well be the younger, less expensive Casey Wellman. Lombardi would still be a pretty good choice though, but odds are his price tag's going up.
Verdict: 3 years, 2.25 - 2.75 million per year