According to TSN's Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, the Leafs have dealt forward Matthew Lombardi to the Phoenix Coyotes for a conditional draft pick. The Leafs will pick up a portion of the salary owed to Lombardi, as well as his $500,000 signing bonus.
Lombardi was acquired in the deal that sent Brett Lebda and prospect Robert Slaney to Nashville for his services and Cody Franson.
With a portion of the $3.5 million off the books, this gives the Leafs a little more wiggle room with regard to the cap this season.
We now have three burning questions following the deal, and no, it's not what the conditions are on that pick. That will be leaked later by reporters.
Update: a fourth-round selection in 2014 was the pick that was dealt
1.) Does Lombardi getting dealt cement Nazem Kadri for Opening Night in Montreal?
I believe this move will mean Kadri starts opening night. I have no idea where he'll be playing in the top nine, or who he'll be playing with; but the fact is, I think Kadri makes the team following this move.
After a very impressive scrimmage today that saw Kadri pot a hat-trick, he left the Leafs coaching staff very pleased with his performance. One notable thing Leaf coaches commented on was his ability to win face-offs, something he's been working on. His natural position is at center, and with the ability to win draws consistently coming into his repertoire, you could see Kadri land a role in the team's top six this season.
2.) Does Lombardi getting dealt mean Tim Connolly's days are also numbered in Toronto?
Again, yes I believe Tim Connolly's days are numbered in Toronto. Following the scrimmage at training camp today, Randy Carlyle left the scrimmage with a sour taste in his mouth when asked about how Connolly played. Needless to say, he was less than impressed.
With Colton Orr back on the squad and a perfect fit for the 13th forward role with the club, Connolly's spot on the team is literally hanging on by a thread. Orr, who cannot be farmed or bought out because his salary is under $3 million, will likely remain with the Leafs.
With Kadri's emergence at camp, as well as youngsters Matt Frattin and Leo Komorov pushing for a roster spot, Connolly's $4 million-plus contract will likely either be bought out or dealt to another team.
3.) Does Lombardi getting dealt mean Roberto Luongo being dealt to Toronto is soon to follow?
Luongo could very well be in Toronto's sight-lines. The Maple Leafs' has cleared some cap space for this season, and could be clearing more if they choose to deal Connolly as well.
Is Luongo going to be a Leaf this season? Likely not, unless the Canucks lower their asking price, which was originally for Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner.
Rumors have been swirling about Tyler Bozak being a target as well as Carl Gunnarsson, but I believe Tim Connolly would have to be a necessary piece going the other way for Toronto to bite on a Luongo deal.
Lombardi's career in Toronto was short, and after the Leafs signed center Jay McClement, you could tell he was going to be moved at some point in the offseason. This marks the first of what is expected to be a flurry of moves for the Leafs as new GM Dave Nonis gets sole possession of the reigns from here on in.
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