Will get you pumped for the season!!
For Brett Lebda (it’s not April fools) and prospect Robert Slaney. Deals are rarely done as stand alones nowadays, and Nashville has their reasons (cost cutting of Lombardi’s contract for a new Weber deal), but this seems like a really good move from the Leafs perspective.
Cody Franson is a 24-year-old, 6’5 defenceman with two-way ability and was likely the price Nashville had to pay to move out Lombardi and open up a couple million dollars. Matthew Lombardi had his full year wiped out by a concussion and carries a $3.5 mill cap hit for the next two seasons. In his last full season Lombardi put up 53 points in 78 games. If relatively healthy the Leafs have a very offensively capable checking line center. Lack of offensive production from the bottom six was a major problem last season and would be well worth sacrificing the conditional fourth round pick to get a relatively full season out of Lombardi. The big question will be if he can rebound from a very serious concussion; Nashville clearly has their concerns. Worse case Lombardi ends up on LTIR until he’s ready to attempt a return, and the Leafs incur an off-the-cap expense in order to get Franson, one a budget team like Nashville can’t swallow as easily, especially when they couldn’t get Lombardi’s salary covered by insurance.
Franson has one year left on an $800,000 deal before he becomes an RFA. He’s not really the player his frame suggests as he’s far more of an offensive talent from the blueline than a stay-at-home, physical defenceman. The Leafs now have seven defencemen I’d consider regulars and four centermen competing for the top three spots down the middle but that depth is nothing but a good thing, especially considering the injury histories of Connolly and Lombardi.