Rangers Optimistic Matthew Lombardi Can Contribute
The Rangers get set to take on the NJ Devils in preseason action tonight at the Garden. Tonight’s lineup features 3 centers who weren’t even on the team last year. One of those pivots is UFA signing, Matthew Lombardi.
Chris Kreider-Kevin Hayes-Danny Kristo
Ryan Malone-Matthew Lombardi-Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-J.T. Miller-Ryan Bourque
Tanner Glass-Chris Mueller-Jesper Fast
Marc Staal-Dan Boyle
John Moore-Mike Kostka
Ryan Mantha-Sam Noreau
The swift 32 year old center-man just finished a nice season in the Swiss League where he led the league in scoring. At 2 years for 800K per, it’s a low risk – high reward move for the Blueshirts.
“He is a guy that played in the league and played with Ulfie in Phoenix,” head coach, Alain Vigneault told media today after practice. “We knew his skill set, lots of speed, quick on transition, smart player, can kill penalties. He fit a role that we were looking for.”
Lombardi is fast and versatile. He can play center and wing, plus he is a solid penalty killer. That is exactly what role the head coach was speaking of today. His speed is the key to the signing, as Alain Vigneault absolutely loves guys with speed. He knows it kills and his system loves to use it in order to exploit defenses.
The Rangers should consider themselves lucky that they can’t him so cheap. “[Lombardi] for a couple of years was on the injured side and not able play up to his potential.” Vigneault reminded everyone. “Last year he went to Europe and had a real solid season over there from the people who our scouts are talking to. He has his confidence back, and for us it was a player that has proven he can play at this level.”
Of course Vigneault tempered expectations, “Can he still do it? We will give him an opportunity and see what happens.” That opportunity officially begins tonight.
-Featured image by Sean Hartnett / WFAN