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Trade: Leafs send Gunnarsson to Blues, get Polak in return

Jun 28, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02: Roman Polak #46 of the St. Louis Blues looks on against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on December 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a flip on defense, adding rugged St. Louis rearguard Roman Polak in a draft-day trade that sent Swedish blueliner Carl Gunnarsson to the Blues.

Polak, 28, has spent his entire seven-year career with St. Louis. He just wrapped the third of a five-year, $13.75 million deal with a $2.75M annual cap hit.

In exchange for Polak, the Leafs sent Gunnarsson and their fourth-round pick (94th overall) to the Blues. Gunnarson, 27, has two years remaining on his three-year, $9.45M deal that carries a $3.15M cap hit.

The deal is an interesting one. Gunnarsson was a staple of the Toronto blueline last year, scoring 17 points in 80 games while averaging nearly 20 minutes a night. Polak was a similar staple of the St. Louis defense, but played less (around 17 minutes) and brought a much more rugged game to the table — he led all Blues d-men in hits last year, with 151, and was second on the team with 131 blocked shots.

That said, Polak had a tough time in playoffs against Chicago, finishing the series minus-3 with just one point.

As for why Gunnarsson might’ve been dealt…

Another wrinkle to the deal? Toronto will retain $200,000 of Gunnarsson’s salary.

  1. bluesrawesome - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    I don’t understand what the Blues are shooting for here. We need our d to be very physical and Polak brought that. And we now have no one to replace Polak on the right side and to many left handed d man. Is this foreshadowing another shakeup to the blues d?

    • gret9 - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      As a Chicago fan, I won’t miss Polak….the guy was a punishing hitter. I wasn’t very impressed with any Toronto’s defensemen so I’m not seeing what this does to help the Blues either.

  2. thesportsjudge - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Seems to be a potential pre blockbuster deal for the Leafs maybe? TO has replaced their alleged tough defender(Captain Oblivious) with Polak? Could Dion have a new address soon?

  3. billsin20xx - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    He will be a big help to Princess Phanuef! Maybe he will teach him to hit and take hits, get him to stop diving to the ice to avoid them and using his stick instead f his body.

  4. tgd1976 - Jun 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Adding Polak addresses the Leafs need for another right handed shooting d-man (Franson is the only other one on the roster) and improves the toughness on the back end as well. Gunnarsson had been a pretty steady d-man for the Leafs, but the roster needs a shake-up.

  5. garybrian2014 - Jun 28, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Leafs have to have someone to clear the front of the net and maybe stop some of the 35 shots a game their goalies had to face last year. Maybe they can drop Phaneuf of somewhere as well and bring up a couple of guys from the Marlies!

  6. pj608 - Jun 28, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I think this was a good trade for both teams…. TOR needs a guy that actually plays D and STL needs a defender that can skate and move the puck into the zone. Plus, Gunnarson is younger than Polak. Why are you guys saying that STL needs D to play D? Their whole team played too much D and wouldnt score goals when it mattered…. Think was good trade for both.

  7. 19to77 - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    I’m not really understanding this move from the Blues’ side of things. It’s not exactly bad, but kind of unnecessary. JayBo’s a smooth-skating left-handed puck-mover who plays well with Pietrangelo, and Petro and Shattenkirk give them plenty of offensive talent from the back end. Gunnarson’s a good skater and puck-mover, but not exactly an offensive catalyst. And he’s not significantly better or worse than Polak defensively either. Toronto needed a shot-blocker, but did St. Louis need Gunnarson for anything in particular? Doesn’t seem like it.

  8. Hard to BeLeaf - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Blues fans will like Gunnarsson, He’s a hard working guy. Might not be as good defensively as Polak, but he’s no slouch. I’m curious (and a little worried) to see how he does now that he doesn’t have to babysit Dion Phaneuf. I think having to cover for Dion’s mistakes (and that’s a lot of mistakes) stiffled Gunnarsson’s abilities in Toronto. He can play big minutes too.

    Polak is the kind of guy the Leafs needed too. Leafs need a beast who can play pure defense. They didn’t have that presence last year. The defense was anything but intimidating. Leafs could probably use another grunt like Polak. They have the offensive guys on D with Franson, Gardiner and Rielly, just need to bring in some defensive guys to build around them.

    and PLEASE get rid of Phaneuf already!

    • apitheous - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Speed is the only drawback to Polack game the Blues will miss him. I wish him well except against St.Louis in which case I hope they don’t dress him!

  9. pj608 - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Toronto doesn’t need a shot blocker… They need to stop turning over the puck in every zone of the ice. Also, the D gets caught pinching (Phaneuf) cough cough…. Way to much when they should fall back and support their team mate that is battling for the puck. If your the last guy back, you stay back. You don’t move forward. That is torontos problem. This is a good trade for both teams. Polaks problem was he couldn’t really handle the speed of teams like chi but that wasn’t all his fault. His team was on their heels trying to protect miller instead of scoring goals and it just all fell apart. I am curious as to of STL will resign miller. I think they should. Who else are they gonna have in net? Can’t play Elliot all season.

    • stevedurbano - Jun 29, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      The Blues told Miller they had no interest in signing him a month ago. It’s Allen and Elliott barring something major happening.

  10. bucfanforlife - Jun 28, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    first polak not as tough as people think been knocked out in fights twice in the last couple of years second he cant skate

    • stevedurbano - Jun 29, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      It takes a truly tough guy to get knocked out- a pu**y never gets in the fight at all. Polak never embarrassed himself in a fight.

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