Leafs trade Carl Gunnarsson and 94th pick to St. Louis for Roman Polak

The Leafs have traded defenceman Carl Gunnarsson and the 94th pick overall to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Roman Polak.

I’m at the draft right now and when the trade was announced it was dead silent… Well, except for the guy behind me who yelled “THAT’S A HORRIBLE TRADE!” loud enough that the entire arena heard him.

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Carl Gunnarsson has played 304 NHL games, all of which have been with the Leafs. In that time, Gunnarsson has scored 15 goals and 71 assists for 86 points.

Gunnarsson was a diamond-in-the-rough pick. Selected in the 7th round, 194th overall, Gunnarsson was one of the last picks taken in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Only three players chosen from the second round onward in 2007 have played more than 300 NHL games: Wayne Simmonds, Jamie Benn, and Gunnarsson. In fact, the only defenceman taken in the 2007 draft with more games played than Gunnarsson is Karl Alzner. Then there’s the little chestnut of Gunnarsson being on the Leafs’ top defensive pairing with captain Dion Phaneuf for at least two years. For a 7th-rounder, that’s extremely good value.


Roman Polak is not a Roman or a Polak. He’s a Czech national who has played all of his 424 career NHL games with the St. Louis Blues. In that time, Polak notched 13 goals and 66 assists for 79 points. In other words, Polak has seven fewer career points than Gunnarsson in 120 more games played.

Then again, Polak isn’t an offensive defenceman. The sixth round pick from 2004 is a big boy. Standing at 6’1″ and a hefty 227 lbs, Polak immediately adds size to the Leafs’ back end. More importantly, Polak adds a right-handed shot to the Leafs’ defence. Here’s a list of the Leafs’ right-handed defencemen before Polak was added:

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  • Cody Franson

That’s it. 


After totally blowing me away with William Nylander (fantastic pick), the Leafs really disappointed me with this deal. Trading Gunnarsson for Polak straight up I wouldn’t have much of an issue with. The Leafs giving up their 94th pick in the deal turned me sour on it. Then learning that the Leafs are actually retaining $200,000 of Gunnarsson’s salary in the deal was the kicker. It seems so insignificant, but it’s little moves like that, that kill you. 

Gunnarsson’s $3.15 million cap hit goes to St. Louis and Polak’s $2.75 million cap hit goes to Toronto. The $200,000 retention pretty much makes it even. Gunnarsson’s actual salary next year with be $3.15 million and then $3.45 million the next season, while Polak’s salary will be $3.1 million for both of the next two seasons.

Take care, Gunnar.


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Also awkward, these guys are teammates, now.

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  • TGT23

    This is awful. It makes no sense!

    You get worse on the back end, you don’t get back any salary cap space, AND you lose a pick…

    Did we REALLY need a tough guy who is slow on the back end?!

    Why did we ever think things would be different? Orr, McLaren, Polak! Yay! Let’s start them all! Because that is what teams really need to win! Face punchers for ALL!

    I hate this organization. I really do. I’m so fed up. Nothing they do makes sense, and even when they do something right (Nylander) they follow it by doing something stupid.

  • TGT23

    This is a solid trade. This does not downgrade our defense at all. We need people willing to take the body. We need more right-handed shots on the blue line.

    I get it. Gunnarsson is a nice guy. Fans like him. But he is half the reason Phaneuf looks bad. It’s why bigger teams owned the front of the net against the leafs.

    I hope this is a sign of more to come.

    • CMpuck

      I hope you are kidding about Gunnarsson being half the reason Phaneuf looks bad. Phaneuf looks bad purely because he has zero skating speed and when he makes a mistake it is massively noticeable. Gunnarsson is a quiet player who does rather simple things. Not making a huge impact while also not being a huge risk. If anything Gunnarsson was probably sick of having to clean up after all of Phaneuf’s mistakes because he cant turn around and skate back to his own zone in the same day.

  • CMpuck

    When Kulemin walks it’s the official end of the JFJ era.

    Pollack is 236 RHD that skates well, what’s not to like? Put him with Gleason late in the game and we could possibly not give away a lead like we’ve done every blueline since the fist lockout.

    Leafs had the worst blueline in the league and the only guy getting criticized is Dion. Gunner wasn’t working out in Toronto, it’s time to move on.

  • CMpuck

    After Sundin Left the Leafs they were completely devoid of front end talent and for a couple of years they have been trying to remedy this situation.

    Now the Leafs have a legitimate 1st line and other good pieces in place, but it has left several players filling roles they are not suited for.

    Gunnarsson is not a #2 defenseman, Bozak is not a conventional #1 centre, Grabbo was not a 3rd line centre etc. -so now the leafs have been trying to
    acquire players who are suitable for the roles needed in the Leafs lineup. Grabbo wasn’t a bad center we just didn’t need another 2nd line center because arguably Bozak and Kadri could fill that role.
    Gunnarsson might be a better defenseman over all than Polak but we need a right-handed shutdown defenseman to clear the front of the net and to protect leads.Now the Leafs have this kind of role player.

    Other considerations are Gunnarsson’s hip injury
    and the fact that he doesn’t play Randy Carlyle hockey.Leaf management are not stupid they just had to pay market value and consider the cap restrictions.

    The Leafs said clearly 2 years ago that they didnt just want to make the playoffs-that’s not the goal.

    How clever was it of the Leafs to tank the end of the season last year so that they could pick William Nylander-their #1 future centre for years to come
    – And all in the media frenzy of the Toronto market where i never heard one writer say they were Tanking.
    It’s all about the end game .

      • CMpuck

        When Sundin left the the Leafs were completely devoid of talent. Since this time we have seen great progress.

        The Leafs now have their best “stable” first line since I can remember. 2 excellent defensive prospects in Gardiner and Reilly, and a pipeline of excellent prospects in the system that had the Marlies advance
        reasonably far in playoffs last year, and next years Marlies I believe will even be stronger.

        They plucked Holland for a second round pick.
        JVR was a steal from the Flyers. Kessel deals now looks good in retrospect, as he is the Leafs most productive player -even though the media and bloggers relentlessly kicked and screamed about it.

        Mason Raymond was a very good signing, Bernier looks good…….I think a lot of good player moves they’ve made lately,and there are more as well-
        can you deny this????

  • CMpuck

    Omg we need to make a trade!! (then) omg we made a trade and its terrible lol careful what you wish for. They are still looking to replace gunn in the 2 spot, polak just gives us more options to play with the kids and a bit more snarl in the back end.Lets face it, the kids do have to get better, how much more rope do you give Gardiner?

    That being said Gunner 2.0 is already poised to make his NHL debut, Petter Granberg played really well this past season with the Marlies, wouldnt surprise me if he makes the team out of camp.

    They still need a solid 2 but I do wonder if Boyle really would do the trick.

  • CMpuck

    Honestly, the leafs have made an amazing trade. They need to fine tune the defensive core, and I am glad they are doing that. One thing people do not taking into consideration is that, this is a player that comes from a team that ‘stressed’ the basics to another level. They leafs over look that, and that is what makes them so in-consistent. They need a player like him to tell the other defence-men “hey! don’t be stupid and try to go in deep and leave us stranded for an odd -man rush.”

    ^ sorry about that that, I am just still butt hurt about those short handed goals that always seem to happen to the leafs (worst one was with the rangers..).

    Overall, great trade, I hope that fourth round pick doesn’t turn into a tuuka… if he does… *face-desk*

    • CMpuck

      It’s the coaches job to tell players those things.

      On a poorly coached team like the Leafs I expect Polak to be a disappointment. Gunnarson on the other hand might just return to his pre-Carlyle form. That would make this trade an absolute robbery for St. Louis.

      • CMpuck

        Polak lead the Blues in hits and the reports on him
        according to Bob McKenzie, Shanahan, & Nonis are he skates well for a big man , plays against the opponents best players and plays with an edge-
        sounds like just what the Leafs need.
        And I expect him to help Leafs become harder to play against and to help the Leafs to return to more the
        type of team they were 2 years ago when they made the playoff.
        Players coming off serious injury are a risk-I hope
        Gunnarson does return to form and plays well for the Blues -but then again he might not-and someone else
        will be filling the #2 defenseman spot for the leafs
        -someone better suited for the role no doubt.