Coyotes acquire Lombardi in deal with Maple Leafs
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Matthew Lombardi is getting a second chance in the desert.
The Phoenix Coyotes hope he can regain his form and give them a much-needed scoring boost.
Phoenix re-acquired Lombardi on Wednesday, sending a fourth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs to pick up a center who was a fan favorite during his previous stint with the Coyotes.
"I'm super excited," Lombardi said. "I never wanted to leave in the first place, so it's a great opportunity."
Lombardi was a popular teammate during first stint with the Coyotes after arriving in a trade with Calgary during the 2008-09 season. He had five goals and 11 assists in 19 games that season and followed up with 19 goals and 34 assists in 78 games during the 2009-10 season before signing with Nashville during the offseason.
Lombardi played just two games with the Predators in 2010-11 due to a neck injury and had limited effectiveness with Toronto last season after missing training camp, scoring eight goals with 10 assists in 62 games.
A defense-first team, Phoenix had been in the market for a top-line center and general manager Don Maloney had his sights on Lombardi long before the NHL lockout ended. Toronto picked up a portion of Lombardi's salary, which made the deal even easier to pull off for the financially-conscious Coyotes.
Phoenix hopes to have him in the lineup for Saturday's season opener against Dallas.
"I just feel better about our team with Matthew here," Maloney said. "I think it's another legitimate top three line NHL player where at times he was our best center man (his previous stint). There's no learning period. We know what he is. (Coach) Dave Tippett knows who he is and how we can use him. He's a versatile player, can play in the power play, just fits in our structure. He's not a big star, but he's just a good player and a good person."