The Blues have made a change at defense. The club has traded Roman Polak to Toronto in exchange for Carl Gunnarsson and a draft pick. The move comes as the Blues believed they needed a left-handed defenseman to play with Kevin Shattenkirk. Though the move involves a player Blues fans feel strongly about, it was a solid trade which appears to favor the Note.
It’s time to close the Roman Polak door.
Polak leaving St. Louis is shocking and even depressing, but it was an intelligent hockey move. The Blues addressed a perceived need and got a really nice return on a defenseman who has looked a step slower over the last couple seasons. The infamous Polak Door looked like one of a screen variety last season as the toughness and physicality didn’t appear quite as intimidating as it did in previous seasons. The spark just wasn’t quite there. That’s not to say Polak was a bad player, but it does make the return look a bit nicer.
Speaking of Gunnarsson, he’s a pretty solid defenseman. Toronto was horrible defensively last season (allowed an average of 3.07 goals per game), yet Gunnarsson was one of the lone bright spots. Plus/minus is a flawed statistic, but he was +12 on a team that loved to give up goals. He was often paired up against the opponent’s top forwards. Gunnarsson is a year younger and comes at nearly the exact same cost in terms of salary ($3.175 million cap hit for Gunnarsson vs. $2.75 million hit for Polak) because the Maple Leafs agreed to pay for $200,000 of Gunnarsson’s salary.
The argument has already been made that Gunnarsson is the better player than Polak. Add in the retained salary and the fourth-round pick (the Blues selected Ville Husso) and you have a deal that slants in favor of the Blues.
That’s a common opinion:
Basically, I think Gunnarsson is by far the better player than Polak & the Leafs threw in a pick as well as retained cap space.
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) June 28, 2014
It may be difficult to directly compare the two defensemen as they address different needs, but Blues fans should be happy with return. It may be time to close the Polak door, but it’s time to welcome an improved St. Louis defense.