One of us is taking Lombardi’s job. -Photo Credit- AP
If you’ve been following along we’ve been taking a look at how the Leafs can best address the many many glaring holes in the roster over the past few weeks. Cam looked at the goaltending, and JP took a look at #1C. I’ve been investigating how the Leafs can fill two Top 9 Forward spots as cheaply as possible. In my last post I suggested it’s time for Kadri to take Colby Armstrong’s place on the roster. This leaves one more spot open. I’d like to take a look at a few more options for a Matthew Lombardi replacement before we start looking outside the organization. As previously stated, the main thing this forward needs to be is cheap, and the best way to ensure cost effectiveness is by using players on ELC or RFA contracts.
Thankfully the Leafs have a number of options when it comes to replacing Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi had 8 goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 62 games played this past season. He also carried a $3.5M cap-hit. While he was a cost of ridding us of Lebda and acquiring Franson, he is not going to be part of the team’s future. At this point he’s simply taking ice-time away from a younger, cheaper player.
Predicting point production using AHL numbers isn’t an exact science. Yesterday, Cam took a look at the NHL equivalences of a few Marlies this past season.
All of these players would give you more production than Lombardi at a fraction of the cost. While these players are not guaranteed to hit those targets both Kadri and Frattin have shown the ability to contribute offensively in the NHL. The important thing is that all of these players are cheap, and potentially part of the Leafs’ long-term plans.
My ideal solution to the issue would be to let these four players fight for two spots on the third line in training camp and during the pre-season. I think the Leafs would find success if they used that line as a sheltered scoring line, but Burke and Carlyle may have other ideas.
There is the chance that Burke and Carlyle will want to use the 3rd line in more of a checking/defensive role. If that is the case than Kadri and one of Frattin, Ashton, or Colborne are not the ideal candidate for this vacancy. In my next post I’ll take a look at some of the options both in-house and UFA available if the Leafs are considering using the 3rd line as a checking/shutdown line and as an opportunity to insert a veteran into the line-up.