Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E Sports) – The Toronto Maple Leafs boosted their blue line after sending two players to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Roman Polak.
The Maple Leafs shipped defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and the No. 94 pick in the draft to the Blues during the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center.
Before the trade, Cody Franson was Toronto’s only righty veteran, but he’s a restricted free agent. Rookie Petter Granberg is a righty defenseman but played one NHL game last season.
“If you look at how our [defense] was put together, we had a lot of the same, particularly down the left side…so we felt we could use a different look, a right shot, a guy that plays a little harder, more difficult to play against without giving up anything because we still have those other players,” general manager Dave Nonis said.
“We had an abundance of one thing and we were definitely lacking in the other,” he added.
Gunnarsson and Polak each has two years remaining on his contract. Gunnarsson’s contract carries an NHL salary-cap charge of $3.15 million; Polak’s contract is worth $2.75 million annually. Toronto reportedly retained $200,000 of Gunnarsson’s average annual salary in the trade.
The 27-year-old Gunnarsson had 17 points and a plus-12 rating in 80 games last season playing primarily in a top-pair role with Dion Phaneuf, who is a left-shot defenseman playing on the right side. Gunnarsson has 86 points in 304 NHL games, all with the Maple Leafs.
Nonis said the trade clears room for Gardiner and Reilly to push for more playing time and potentially join Phaneuf on Toronto’s top pair.
Polak, 28, not only gives the Maple Leafs a right shot, but is big (6-foot, 236 pounds), physical and can skate.