You'd think, after watching Alex Steen chase the Rocket Richard trophy last season in St. Louis, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be hesitant to send a Swede to St. Louis. But no.
The rationale is simple: Cody Franson was the Leafs' only right-handed shot. That won't do, and as it happens, Polak plays the right side.
The team also saves a little money. Gunnarsson makes $3.15M for the next two years, while Polak makes $2.75M over the same time frame, and there is some concern that Gunnarsson won't be as effective coming off hip surgery.
Still, stop me if you'd heard this one before: it's a bit of a curious trade for the Leafs, and not just because what looks to be a straight swap somehow necessitated losing a draft pick. Gunnarsson was one of the few defenders who looked comfortable alongside Dion Phaneuf, and having a partner for your top defenceman and captain seems ideal. Plus, while Polak is strong, he's slow, and the Leafs' blueline was never all that quick. Now they're even less so. Is Polak going to play with Phaneuf? And if so, how is a team with a top pairing of Phaneuf and Polak supposed to, like, make the playoffs and stuff?
The trade is also further evidence that the Leafs care very little for this "corsi" blarney, because according to that stat, Polak's not very effective on the ice. The guy's possession numbers leave much to be desired:
He'll fit right in on the Leafs, then.