Coyotes acquire Lombardi in deal with Maple Leafs

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.”

When he was healthy, Lombardi was among the fastest centers in
the NHL. The Coyotes are hoping at 30, he’s still got wheels and
can add to their overall speed up front with players such as Steve
Sullivan and holdovers such as Mikkel Boedker, Lauri Korpikoski and
Antoine Vermette.

”He gives us depth at center,” Tippett said. ”He was a player
when he was here, he fit in with our group real well. He plays with
speed, he can play center or wing. Some players have a knack for
fitting in places and when his name came up, we thought it was a
guy that we could add to our lineup was a real plus for us.”

Lombardi should have a good feel with most of his teammates.

He knows several of the players from his last go-round in the
desert and spent much of the lockout skating with the Coyotes
during their informal workouts at the Ice Den in Scottsdale while
staying at captain Shane Doan’s ranch.

Lombardi looked good during the workouts and exhibited some of
the same speed he had during his previous stint in Arizona.

”I can’t say enough good things about him,” Doan said. ”Lombo
is one of those guys we all missed and obviously excited that he’s
coming back here. That’s a huge get for us.”

Lombardi has 97 goals and 157 assists in 508 NHL games,
including a stint with the Calgary Flames. He’s also played in 40
career playoff games, with three goals and 13 assists.