I once got a tip from a guy who worked in hockey. He said that the less you hear about a defenseman during a game of hockey, the more probable it is that heâ€™s playing a very sound hockey game.
Carl Gunnarsson just might be the posterboy for this notion. You rarely hear â€œBig hit by Carl Gunarssonâ€. Then again, color commentary is rarely about â€œGunnarsson moved the puck quickly and efficiently out of danger on that occasion.â€
There is a reason behind why teams would a) want Gunnarsson in a package deal, b) why I thought/think he will probably be a part of a package deal. That reason has nothing to do with me wanting him out of the hockey club (nothing could be further from the truth) and everything to do with the fact he could actually add real value to the trade package. Now, for a guy selected 194th overall, who was never really projected as something special by anyone but the guy who recommended him to the Leafs (much like Sondre Olden), thatâ€™s quite a step forward.
The more I think about it, the less I would be prepared to agree with us moving Carl Gunnarsson, although all that depends on the return. Why? Well, simply put, he is our best defenseman. While this may come as a surprise, itâ€™s the truth. Looking purely from a defensive standpoint, his defensive coverage, lack of turnovers and hockey IQ are the highest among our current group of defensemen. Gardiner is slowly getting there, but as things stand now, Gunnarsson is the guy I trust to get the puck out of the zone with little pizzazz and great efficiency. Carl plays a strong positional game and never tries to do too much, instead he plays the simple game to perfection. The one thing I’ve noticed about this guy is his consistency on a game to game basis. Â I also really like his composure, which is coupled with good on-ice vision. Like many Swedes before him, he just seems to play a level way beyond his draft position.
I haven’t observed many holes in his game since his rookie year, and judging by his maturation he will continue to improve at this level. The one thing I would like to see is him working on his upper body strength in order to handle the bigger forwards a little bit better. To tell you the truth, with the way our defense handles breakout passes and coughs up the puck in our own zone, Gunnarsson is the last defenseman the club should be moving. He’s just so… stabile.