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. Gunnarsson , 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…
Gunnarsson just had pretty significant hip surgery. Another factor in deal.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 28, 2014
Another wrinkle to the deal? Toronto will retain $200,000 of Gunnarsson’s salary.