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Nashville Predators trade Cody Franson & Matthew Lombardi to Toronto

Stephen Dunn

A bizarre bit of news just hit the wire, courtesy of the Toronto Star's Damien Cox:

Toronto Star sources confirm Leafs have acquired D Cody Fransen and C Matthew Lombardi from NASH for D Brett Lebda and F Robert Slaney.

Wow. As a standalone deal, this is terrible, but it looks like the prelude to something bigger, just like the Jason Arnott trade created the room to sign Lombardi last summer.

Using the data from NHLNumbers, it looks like the Preds currently stand at just over $36 million in payroll (not including bonuses), with 8 forwards, 6 defense, and 2 goalies under contract. If you expect the Predators to open the 2011-12 season about $2-4 million below the salary cap midpoint (leaving maneuvering room during the season), that leaves them with $16-18 million to go out and sign 6-7 more players (including their own RFA's like Sergei Kostitsyn, Nick Spaling, and Cal O`Reilly).

The hockey value coming back here is pretty negligible. Slaney spent most of last season in the ECHL, and Lebda is a bottom-pairing defenseman. The value here, I suppose, is trimming $4.3 million from this season's payroll (although Lebda makes $1.45M this season), and opening a spot on defense for one of the young guns like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, or Mattias Ekholm.

The press release from the Preds follows after the jump...

First off, the scouting report on Lebda:

Brett Lebda

#23 / Defenseman / Toronto Maple Leafs



Jan 15, 1982

2010 - Brett Lebda 41 1 3 4 -14 14 0 0 0 34 2.9

  • Moves well with the puck and is capable of making good passes up the ice. Has some untapped offensive upside.
  • Lacks size and isn't physical at all. Lacks defensive consistency and can make bad decisions in the defensive zone.
Career Potential
  • Mobile depth defenseman.

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Brett Lebda and forward Robert Slaney from the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Matthew Lombardi. The deal also includes a fourth-round pick - Nashville will acquire Toronto's 2013 fourth rounder if Lombardi plays 60 or more games regular-season games over the course of 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, while Toronto will acquire Nashville's 2013 fourth rounder if Lombardi does not play 60 games during the next two campaigns.

"Unfortunately, Matthew Lombardi's concussion last season and recovery left us uncertain about his ability to come back for this season, and that uncertainty has made it difficult for us to move forward, plan and develop our lineup," Poile said. "We never like to give up young homegrown talent like Cody Franson, but have to give up something in order to put ourselves in position to do other things to improve our team, which we are committed to doing between now and training camp."

Lebda, 29 (1/15/82), appeared in 41 games for the Leafs in 2010-11, registering four points (1g-3a) and 14 penalty minutes. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native has amassed 72 points (19g-53a) and 215 penalty minutes in 367 NHL regular-season contests with Detroit and Toronto since 2005-06, and 10 assists and 40 PIMs in 62 playoff games during that span. The 5-9, 194-pound blueliner won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008, and helped Detroit advance to the Finals the following season. Prior to turning pro in 2004-05, Lebda played four seasons at the University of Notre Dame, amassing 85 points (26g-59a) and 253 penalty minutes in 152 games.

Slaney, 22 (10/13/88), spent the majority of the 2010-11 campaign with the ECHL's Reading Royals, notching 24 points (7g-17a) and 34 PIMs in 61 games. He also appeared in nine contests with the AHL's Toronto Marlies, posting one assist and two penalty minutes. The 6-2, 203-pound native of Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland played four seasons with Cape Breton (QMJHL) from 2005-09, registering 168 points (78g-90a) and 229 PIMs in 239 games.