Yesterday a bit of a kerfuffle erupted online when a translation of a hockeysvierge piece found the Internet. I like foreign interviews because players tend to say more interesting things in both their native languages, and the ones tabloid reporters don’t speak.
If you went to hockeysvierge’s website and clicked on the translation page, the quoted Gunnarsson bit from the article was “Do not think I need to stay”. I’ve put the image above, so ya’ll can see it. However, Google Translations aren’t exactly accurate, so we sent off the article to the Leafs Nation’s Swedish Bureau to give us a real translation of the piece.
That’s after the jump. Read on and discuss.
I’ve realized how it works in this market, that you can’t be attached to one place.
We haven’t talked yet. The ball is in their court. I have left everything to the agents, they’re gonna have to handle that. I don’t feel any stress about the fact that my contract is expiring.
There are other players who are more of a priority (laugh). It is a bit more urgent with Tyler Bozak and those guys who are unrestricted free agents. They have to handle things with those guys quicker than with me.
What do you expect to get in terms of salary?
Five years, seven million per season.. (laugh)
No, I’ve actually got no idea what people earn and don’t know what to demand. The agents can handle that. I have actually not thought about it at all.
But you are focused on staying in Toronto?
Both yes and no. Sure, I am happy with the club and like the city, but I don’t know what they think about me and if they think I have a future with the club.
I have naturally realized how things work in this business, that you can’t get too attached, that you’re nothing more than a piece of a puzzle. I don’t feel I have to stay, so I am pretty calm about these negotiations.
Some people might feel secure about their spot on the team and perhaps I do as well during the actual season, but during summer and at training camp, I always feel chased.
So, Gunnarsson did not indicate that he doesn’t need Toronto and Toronto doesn’t need him. A lot of good defensive defencemen that do what Gunnarsson do don’t make a whole lot of cash, so the Leafs are probably going to get a pretty good deal on this guy.
According to Behind the Net, Gunnarsson had the second-highest quality of competition among Leafs defencemen this season, and started often in the defensive zone. Just 39.8% of his shifts that started in either team’s attacking end were in the offensive zone this season, but it doesn’t take metrics to know that Gunnarsson and Dion Phaneuf generally faced the opposition’s toughest competition in the toughest situations. Any idiot could have seen that.
So he’s quite important. The above translation, which is more accurate than Google, doesn’t have anything life-changing, but it’s a pretty good interview.
Gunnarsson, like Nazem Kadri, is a restricted free agent. I haven’t dove too much into comparables yet, but he’s coming off a two-year deal worth $1.325-million and should expect a tidy raise. I’d try to lock him down for three or four years if I were Nonis. I don’t think buying up UFA years should be too expensive since he doesn’t have the pedigree as a defensive defenceman and doesn’t put up points. Despite his importance as a player, his type of player is undervalued.
How important is he? Well, with just a couple games left in the season, I took a look and found that in the games that Gunnarsson was out of the lineup to injury, the Leafs were out-shot 24.5 to 34.6. In the games Gunnarsson played, the Leafs were out-shot just 27.4 to 31.8. He’s unspectacular, but important, and probably worth a lot more than he’s going to end up getting.
What would you pay Gunnarsson, or Nazem Kadri? I discussed Kadri here yesterday.