After an extremely successful season playing overseas a year ago, veteran center Matthew Lombardi has made the decision to return to the National Hockey League for the 2014-15 campaign, agreeing to terms on a free agent contract with the Rangers Tuesday morning.
The 32 year-old Lombardi led the Swiss League in scoring last season, posting 50 points (20-30-50) in 46 games, with his 30 assists also a league-high. He also helped his team, Geneve-Servette, win the Spengler Cup by recording eight points (4-4-8) in three games.
Prior to playing in Switzerland, Lombardi had played for five teams over nine years in the NHL, accumulating 536 games worth of experience after joining the Calgary Flames in 2003-04. Lombardi has also played for the Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks.
A speedy, smart centerman, Lombardi should fit into head coach Alain Vigneault's system of play in New York. Lombardi has scored 20 goals once in his career, and topped 40 points three times, providing solid and smart two-way hockey at each of his stops throughout the league. With the Rangers looking to add depth down the middle and on their penalty killing unit, Lombardi is an experienced fit in both areas. In addition, Vigneault knows him well from their time facing one another in the Western Conference in years past.
Twenty-nine of the 101 goals Lombardi has scored in the National Hockey League have come on special teams. The 5-foot-11 Montreal native has 12 shorthanded goals--including four with the Flames in 2006-07--and 17 power play tallies. In addition Lombardi has 16 points in 40 Stanley Cup playoff games, including six in seven games with the Coyotes during his most recent post-season action four years ago.
Lombardi likely will head into training camp battling for either the third or fourth-line center position, with the recently re-signed Dominic Moore also expected to be vying for the same spots. Youngsters J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg could be in the mix, as well.