Friday, July 2, 2010

Pawn Star Predators Make Free Agent Moves

When it comes to the free agent market, the Nashville Predators often resemble the stars of the show Pawn Stars. They rummage through cast offs and attempt to find a bargain on the cheap, one that may have surprising value.

The Predators changed their Pawn Star persona in this year's free agency period by making a quality pick up in the form of Matthew Lombardi, most recently of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Lombardi was signed to a three year $10.5 million contract and will immediately challenge for a position on the top line. He is expected to fill the vacancy that was created when Jason Arnott was traded to the New Jersey Devils.

Lombardi, who at 28 is seven years younger than Arnott, brings pure speed and deft puck handling skills to the Predators. His play making skills and speed will be welcome by a team that has needed explosive play makers.

Lombardi had 19 goals and 34 assists in 78 games with the Coyotes last season.

The signing of Lombardi follows the acquisition of the rights of troubled left winger Sergei Kostitsyn from Montreal. Should Kostitsyn get under contract with the Predators, and if he can restart his career, the Predators will have inked two players that can provide much needed offense.

Both conditions are a big "if" for Kostitsyn.

Fans of the Predators have been accustomed to watching their team do little or nothing in free agency. Part of this is due to the financial constraints under which the team operates. The other part is the philosophy of the team- the "Predator way"- in which the belief is to draft well and develop talent within the system. At times, this is frustrating; it takes time to see the fruits of this manner of operating a team pan out.

This discipline- or constraint, if you will- has kept the Predators from paying "stupid money" to free agents and has allowed the franchise to operate with a measure of fiscal discipline that many teams envy. Instead of lavishing dollars on high priced free agents, the Predators have been selective, attempting to plug in players that bring value to the team. Players that can be obtained at a reasonable price and can contribute immediately.

It certainly isn't flashy. It doesn't grab the headlines.

It is incredibly effective.

The signing of Lombardi is indicative of the attractiveness of Nashville as a destination. More importantly, it demonstrates that the Predators will spend solid and reasonable money for a a valuable asset.

Just like a pawn star.

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