Sunday, July 3, 2011

Predators Deal Franson & Lombardi to Toronto

The Nashville Predators announced today that they had traded defenseman Cody Franson and center Matthew Lombardi to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Brett Lebda and forward Robert Slaney.

Here is the press release from the team:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Brett Lebda and forward Robert Slaney from the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Matthew Lombardi. The deal also includes a fourth-round pick – Nashville will acquire Toronto’s 2013 fourth rounder if Lombardi plays 60 or more games regular-season games over the course of 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, while Toronto will acquire Nashville’s 2013 fourth rounder if Lombardi does not play 60 games during the next two campaigns.

“Unfortunately, Matthew Lombardi's concussion last season and recovery left us uncertain about his ability to come back for this season, and that uncertainty has made it difficult for us to move forward, plan and develop our lineup,” Poile said. “We never like to give up young homegrown talent like Cody Franson, but have to give up something in order to put ourselves in position to do other things to improve our team, which we are committed to doing between now and training camp.”

Lebda, 29 (1/15/82), appeared in 41 games for the Leafs in 2010-11, registering four points (1g-3a) and 14 penalty minutes. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native has amassed 72 points (19g-53a) and 215 penalty minutes in 367 NHL regular-season contests with Detroit and Toronto since 2005-06, and 10 assists and 40 PIMs in 62 playoff games during that span. The 5-9, 194-pound blueliner won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008, and helped Detroit advance to the Finals the following season. Prior to turning pro in 2004-05, Lebda played four seasons at the University of Notre Dame, amassing 85 points (26g-59a) and 253 penalty minutes in 152 games.

Slaney, 22 (10/13/88), spent the majority of the 2010-11 campaign with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, notching 24 points (7g-17a) and 34 PIMs in 61 games. He also appeared in nine contests with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, posting one assist and two penalty minutes. The 6-2, 203-pound native of Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland played four seasons with Cape Breton (QMJHL) from 2005-09, registering 168 points (78g-90a) and 229 PIMs in 239 games.

Analysis: the move does clear the salary of Lombardi off the books for the Predators. Lombardi's future is uncertain due to a concussion that he sustained in the second game of the season and from which he was unable to return to action. The move of Franson, who averaged just over 15 minutes of ice time this past season, speaks to the confidence that the organization has in some of the younger defensemen that should be able to make the jump to the NHL this season. It certainly opens the door for Ryan Ellis to make a move to the big club this fall.

Hopefully, this move sets up the Predators for other off season moves with Lombardi's salary off the books. It is no secret that the Predators are looking for additional scoring help up front, and this move should position the Predators to make additional off acquisitions.

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