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The Roman Empire returns on a one-year, $1.1 million deal

We all had a feeling in the back of our minds that this was inevitable. Roman Polak was invited to training camp this year on a professional tryout and has hung around the team to start the season.

Today, the Leafs inked the rugged defender to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. 

This move is somewhat curious because, well, Polak isn’t all that good. He’s praised for his toughness, physicality, and shut down ability in the defensive zone, which is something the Leafs blueline lacks right now. But during his three seasons with the Leafs since being acquired in a deal with the St. Louis Blues, Polak has routinely posted some of the worst shot attempt stats on the team.

After adding Polak, the Leafs will need to make a corresponding roster move to remove a player from their 23-man roster. One would assume it would be Andreas Borgman or Calle Rosen heading down to play with the Marlies, since neither would need to clear waivers.

I doubt Polak is going to take any ice time away from other right-handed defencemen like Connor Carrick or Nikita Zaitsev and ultimately just serves as depth as either Borgman or Rosen develop in the minors. Still, it’s difficult to say adding Polak to the team will make the Leafs better.

  • Matmarwill

    Cam, i think roman played pretty well the last half of last season, so i would be willing to give him a chance. My guess is rosen or fehr to the marlies, more likely the latter.

    Also, the poor showing of the fourth line last night might enciurage them to bring up a replacement for martin, or at least sub in leivo.

    • Tommy Cat

      Why would the Leafs send Martin down? He adds much needed grit that this team just don’t have. And a gem in the room from all accounts.

      Shot attempt stats?!? He’s a defensive defenseman dummy. In case you haven’t noticed the Leafs are having a devil of a time clearing the front of their net.

  • bencat22

    Good move by Leafs, … , he isn’t fancy by any means but he’s a warrior and his teammates love him. Too many soft guys on the back end, plus Polak is another valuable ‘right shot.’ Looks like Calle Rosen goes down to the Marlies for now.

  • Hugh Allan

    I find it very strange that just because one reader disagrees with another they feel it is acceptable to use derogatory vocabulary in their rebuttal? Aren’t we all entitled to our own opinion without being “slashed” for it?

  • Skill2Envy

    I don’t see how he fits into the lineup.

    If you want to find a positive it’s that Rosen (most likely) will now be getting regular games with the Marlies.

  • Brent

    Now that is a head scratcher of a signing. You would think they would be better with a professional AHL defence man. Is this sone sort of a sympathy signing? For a million bucks!

  • lukewarmwater

    I think Babs wants to use Polak selectively, obviously where he has excelled namely the penalty kill and against certain sweaty wrestler teams that use their physicality and simply will pound the non physical leaf defencemen into the net along with the puck over a sprawled Freddy Andersen. Take a look again at Ottawa’s first goal.
    It will be nice to see an opposing forward get a solid check in front of the net or a big hit into the boards. Something that has been missing on a young and exciting and entertaining team that is built for finest game. Come the playoffs when the rules switch to Ausie Rugby rules, the leafs will have to be a more physical in your face squad.
    Another example to watch is the pounding that the Washington big forwards did to the leafs in last years playoff. The leafs are on a learning curve and learning how to win takes time and it can be painful. Just ask the Yankees after last night’s game.

  • Jack Kirchhoff

    Everybody knows what Polak brings to the team, which is toughness and hard hitting, which are things the current Leafs are short of on the blue line (although Borgman is looking good for it). I’m glad to see him back, and I think Babcock is smart enough to use him in the right situations. And tonight against Los Angeles might be one of those situations.