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Preds poised for bigger move: trade Franson, Lombardi to Leafs…

History will show that he donned a Nashville Predators sweater for four periods.

Injured forward Matthew Lombardi, along with defenseman Cody Franson, has been shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs for stay-at-home (and much-maligned) defenseman Brett Lebda and minor leaguer Robert Slaney.

Since Lombardi was weighing down the available cap space while he was on the shelf, and Franson was a full-time player in Music City, this trade can only be seen as a move to clear cap space and a set up move for another trade and/or signing.

General Manager David Poile is up to something. That is undeniable.

Franson is an offensive defenseman who seemed to be “protected” a lot of the time. Head Coach Barry Trotz rarely put Franson on the ice against other teams’ top forwards. That being said, you can’t discount his importance to the power play. He may have only registered six power play points during the regular season last year but he could always be counted on to put the puck on net. Something Nashville has always struggled with. Franson’s 156 shots were fourth most on the club and second among blueliners, behind only captain Shea Weber. Furthermore, he was second on the Preds in power play scoring during the playoffs (three points).

Essentially what the Maple Leafs are getting is a young power play quarterback and an injured top six forward. The forward may never see the ice again (in which case the Preds would give Toronto a fourth round pick in 2013, by the way) but the defenseman they’re getting will be a key piece to the blueline for years to come. The only question mark with Franson is whether he’ll be able to handle the Canadian media on a daily basis. Especially if going against top competition exposes some faults.

The Preds, on the other hand, are getting a guy who apparently is the butt of all jokes in Ontario. When word of the trade hit Twitter, our good friends over at Pension Plan Puppets tweeted THIS. Not a good sign for Nashville. But, because the Preds aren’t necessarily looking for defensemen thanks to the depth in the system (Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, etc.), Lebda could very easily be headed for the waiver wire en route to the Milwaukee Admirals.

As for Slaney, he’s a left winger who’s never seen time at the NHL level. Matter of fact, his entire pro career has been split between the Leafs’ ECHL and AHL affiliates, the Reading Royals and Toronto Marlies, respectively. He did have semi-impressive seasons in junior, however. His 81 points in 2008-09 was tops on his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles club of the QMJHL. But make no mistake, Slaney is a depth forward for Milwaukee.

Franson will be missed and it’s disappointing that Poile didn’t get more mileage out of Lombardi but this transaction is absolutely a set-up move for something else. So hang onto your seats, Preds fans. Any moment now, they’re going to blow you away.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bridget Samuels // special to (used with permission)


  1. Richard

    July 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I can see Lombardi.. but I sure hate to lose Franson…

  2. Kip

    July 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I guess we needed the room under the salary cap but it seems like we are coming out on the losing end of the deal. Lebda is not good. Slaney is a nobody. Franson is going to develop into another Weber-type player. Lombardi will be lucky to play 60 games over the next 2 seasons so we lose a 4th round draft pick and if he does play and is good well. We lost Lombardi.

  3. Brian

    July 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Let’s just hope that a move does come rather then just a cap saver move that we normally see.

  4. Stevio51

    July 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    We gotnothing for Franson. I was already sad about Goc, Wardo, and Sully. Now this!

  5. Preds24

    July 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Really?!?! We trade franson for some no name loser? I’m starting to believe that poile is a fry short of a happy meal…

  6. Frank

    July 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Should’ve traded Klein instead of Franson.Poile didn’t even try to get anything for Ward,Goc or Sullivan.Maybe it’s time to get a new gm!

  7. LBlais

    July 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Poile sat on things at the end of the trade deadline and we ended up on the up side of that. I’m going to sit back and see was Poile has up his sleeve.

  8. Zack

    July 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I just think it’s funny how quickly everyone turned on Poile…not like he’s built a perennial playoff team on no budget right before our eyes or anything. O.o

    Sure, I hate to lose Franson, but this really does smell of something bigger going on. Either that, or he realized Lombardi wasn’t coming back or going to be the same, so he had to dump the contract (with something to sweeten the pot).

    Fact is, we have a good amount of stellar blueliners (again, though I do hate losing Franson), and are set in net. Bergfors was a step in the right direction. If this was to clear some more cash for something else, then I wonder if Poile’s gonna get the credit for that. Because if it does work out, he deserves it.

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