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.