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We have a trade to announce: Leafs send Lombardi back to Coyotes

Jan 16, 2013, 8:24 PM EST

Matthew Lombardi, Robert Lang, Ian Laperriere AP

Some players just make sense in the desert.

The Phoenix Coyotes re-acquired center Matthew Lombardi via a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports. In exchange, the Buds gain a conditional draft pick while retaining some of Lombardi’s $3.5 million pro-rated salary.

The specifics about the amount of salary retained are unclear, but the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle reports that the pick is currently a 2014 fourth-rounder (which can improve if Lombardi hits certain benchmarks).

In the grand scheme of things, the trade opens things up for the Leafs. This could improve Nazem Kadri‘s odds of sticking with the big club while removing an injury-riddled player from the mix.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes add the center they were looking for – and a familiar one in that. GM Don Maloney hasn’t been shy about seeking reunions, bringing back the likes of Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris and Zbynek Michalek in recent years.

Lombardi put up career-bests in Phoenix during the 2009-10 season, scoring 19 goals and 53 points. That made him a hot free agent target in the summer of 2010, but injuries and inconsistency ruined his past two seasons. That was especially true with Nashville in 2010-11; concussions limited him to a pointless two-game stint.

He played in 62 games with Toronto last season, so perhaps he can make the best of things in the final year of his deal with Phoenix. Things went well in his last contract year, after all.

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