The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th round selection (94th overall) in this year’s draft to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Roman Polak.
Gunnarsson was almost always played in situations above his head under Randy Carlyle in Toronto while also struggling with a chronic hip injury he just had repaired this summer. It would’ve been preferred to move Gunnarsson to a lower pairing in order see how he does when he isn’t buried by the second lowest offensive zone starts behind only Dion Phaneuf among NHL defencemen and against some of the toughest competition.
While the right handedness is preferred and Polak brings more size and physical edge, we can question if this is really an upgrade at all let alone one worth spending a 4th round pick to make happen. It is a downgrade in terms of production; Gunnarsson has been a .28 point-per-game player throughout his career and Polak just a .18PPG.
Polak played around 17 minutes a night for the Blues, and was their worst D regular in terms of possession numbers with a -5.8% CorsiRel, starting around 46.2% of shifts in the offensive zone. His shifts weren’t particularly difficult in terms of quality of competition.
— Extra Skater (@ExtraSkater) June 28, 2014
Polak played with Jordan Leopold on the Blues’ bottom pair throughout the first round of the playoffs.
The 28-year-old Czech carries a cap hit of $2.75 million for the next two seasons. The Leafs will save about $200,000 on the cap on Gunnarsson’s $3.150M figure, which was a contract signed through to the end of 2015-16 as well, on account of retaining $200,000 to complete the deal.
Leafs retained $200,000 of cap hit in Polak-Gunnarsson deal
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 28, 2014
Roman Polak Scouting Reports
Assets: Underrated, he plays a smooth, steady game from behind the blueline and usually limits his mistakes. Is big and strong enough (6-1, 225 pounds) to handle big opponents in front of the net.
Flaws: Doesn’t own great offensive ability. Can wear down with overuse. Has been prone to injury, as well. Could stand to be more physical, since he lacks consistency in that department.
Career Potential: Solid stay-at-home defenseman.
an aggressive defense-minded, right-shooting rearguard, who also possesses some decent skills… deceptively strong and agile on his skates, propelled by above-average footspeed… not a flashy puckhandler yet moves the puck reliably and stays within his limitations for the most part… solid defender… prepares and uses his body efficiently to block shooting lanes… stands up puck rushers 1-on-1 and will finish checks with authority
Roman Polak Statistics