Along with a No. 1 goaltender, a top-line center has been at the top of the Toronto Maple Leafs' wish list for quite a few years now.
Last offseason, they made a push for free-agent Brad Richards. When that didn't pan out their Plan B was to take a quantity-over-quality approach and sign Tim Connolly, then trade for Matthew Lombardi. It didn't exactly work out all that well. And in a span of less than 24 hours, new general manager Dave Nonis essentially cleaned house and blew up the position.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Maple Leafs are going to waive Connolly on Thursday. That will come only hours after the team traded Lombardi back to the Phoenix Coyotes for a conditional draft pick.
Connolly is in the final year of a two-year contract that pays him $4.75 million per season, which is pretty high for what Connolly provides. Still, he could be useful for some team that needs a playmaking center and has cap space burning a hole in its general manager's pocket -- assuming that team is willing to take a chance on Connolly staying healthy and recognize that his production has been in a steady decline for four consecutive years.
By dumping Lombardi and Connolly, it appears Toronto is prepared to open the season with Nazem Kadri on its roster. It might even lessen the possibility that a player like Tyler Bozak (or even Kadri himself) could be dangled in trade talks (lookin' at you, Roberto Luongo).