Matthew Lombardi Signs With Nashville
Lombardi brings blazing speed to the Predators lineup and is one of the fastest players in the NHL. He's also coming off a career year with the Coyotes that saw him record 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists), mostly playing on a line with Shane Doan. With Tomas Plekanec and Patrick Marleau re-signing with their respective clubs before July 1, and Saku Koivu agreeing to a two-year deal to remain in Anaheim on Thursday, Lombardi was probably the top center remaining on the open market.
He should be a good fit in Nashville as he's a responsible, hard working two-way player. He wasn't used as much in a penalty killing role this past season with the Coyotes, but has seen extensive action in shorthanded situations throughout his career, even managing to score 11 shorthanded goals during his six seasons, including four during the 2006-07 campaign. Nashville, for what it's worth, was one of the worst penalty killing teams in the NHL last year, killing only 77 percent of ifs penalties.
The Predators also had an opening down the middle after trading Jason Arnott to New Jersey earlier in the offseason.
Lombardi is the second player to leave Phoenix since the start of free agency, joining Zbynek Michalek who signed a five-year deal with Pittsburgh on Thursday, which means the Coyotes have lost one of their best defenseman and their second-leading scorer (while also also adding Ray Whitney) in a span of 24 hours. Lee Stempniak, a 28-goal scorer that was acquired at the deadline last year, remains unsigned.