Sunday, September 25, 2011

Matthew Lombardi cleared for contact

Matthew Lombardi during a Toronto Maple Leafs practice at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Toronto on Thursday September 22 2011. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)

The big surprise over the weekend was not the cuts made by the coaching staff over the weekend. In fact, there will be almost no surprises in the opening game line up barring an injury or two. The Leafs are slowly developing some depth and will not need to rush young players like Jake Gardiner or promote Nazem Kadri before he actually earns a roster spot. The big surprise for me is that Matthew Lombardi has been cleared for contact. The Nashville Predators must be equally surprised.

If Lombardi doesn't incur a set back he might in the opening night line up. The Predator management must be kicking themselves. Not only did they hand over a very good player but they also had to throw in pretty good young defenseman in Cody Franson. Lombardi will be the faster player on the Leafs - faster than Grobovski, Kessel or Kulemin. Lombardi will start off on the 3rd line but if he stays healthy and if the combination of Lupul, Kessel and Connolly do not click, look for Lombardi to move up to play with Phil Kessel.

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