McKenzie: Toronto Could Deal Polak for Right Price

We haven’t even reached November, and already the Toronto Maple Leafs are appearing in the trade rumour mills. It was expected all along that the Leafs would once again flip any and all of their veterans for assets, but I don’t think we were expecting anything to heat up quite so quickly.

On tonight’s segment of TSN’s Insider Trading, Bob McKenzie explained how there’s currently a low rumble on the trade market, with several teams looking to upgrade their blueline and shake up their roster before they slip too far back of the pack to recover. When speaking of players who could be on the move, one Leaf defender was named in particular…

“There’s certainly lots of talk out there, if not action at this point in time. Most of the teams are looking for defencemen – that seems to be the priority – and there are some defencemen that are available. Philadelphia’s Luke Schenn, for example, is somebody who appears to be eminently available. Depending on who you talk to, veteran defenceman Roman Polak with Toronto Maple Leafs could be had for the right price. You got some other guys – Matt Carle in Tampa Bay, Dennis Wideman with the Calgary Flames – but some of these guys come with contractual baggage.”

It makes perfect sense, really. The 29-year old Polak has suited up in six of Toronto’s eight games so far this season and has contributed with a single assist. His average 17:25 in ice time per game makes Polak the Leafs’ fifth defenceman, ahead of Scott Harrington and Martin Marincin. Toronto wouldn’t be worse off with either of those players (or the soon-to-be-returning Frank Corrado) getting some more minutes. 

In fact, a seven-man blue line consisting of Dion Phaneuf, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Matt Hunwick, Harrington, Marincin and Corrado is a fine group for a team with aspirations like the Leafs (low ones).

Better yet, Polak figures to be one of the better options on the trade market right now – it’s not as if he’s any better than the other players McKenzie mentioned, but he’s certainly the cheapest option. Polak is in the final year of his current contract with a cap hit of $2.75M. Schenn is also in his last year but carries a more burdensome $3.6M cap hit, while Carle is owed $5.5M for this season and two more after, and Wideman comes in at $5.25M this year and next.

A team like the Columbus Blue Jackets, for example, could fit Polak in under their salary cap with little issue, but would struggle to even handle Schenn’s contract let alone the other two. Funny enough, I wrote about Polak-to-the-Jackets just last week.

In return, you can’t expect much for a player like Roman Polak. If someone is insane, they’ll send you a third round pick or a decent prospect, but I wouldn’t count on it. Then again, the types of teams that are looking to make a deal at this point are of the desperate variety. Crazier things have happened.

Perhaps just as valuable to the Leafs would be the extra cap space and roster room (and contract slot, if another SPC isn’t coming back). That way, guys like Harrington, Marincin and Corrado can get more playing time and the Leafs won’t have to feel bad about signing the Rich Clunes of the world to NHL deals.

  • Gary Empey

    We seem to have a lot of young defencemen with offensive potential. Their defensive game is not yet up to the NHL level.

    Corrado seems to be the Leafs problem. They either have to pay him to practice with the Leafs for the year, or give him back to the Vancouver, who will promptly send him to the minors for development.

    While trading Polak would open up a spot in the lineup for Corrado, why haven’t we seen him in a game yet with the Leafs?

    You said you would take a 3rd round pick for Polak. I think he is worth a 2nd rounder.

    You also mentioned a decent prospect. The Ducks have a pretty good goalie playing on the AHL Gulls. John Gibson.-22 years old.

    Gibson is a mature goalie who displayed physical coordination and mental toughness at a young age. While he is not a dazzling athlete he has shown little if any major weaknesses in his game. Gibson is a complete goaltender and has been the USA’s goalie at the junior level and was with Team USA during the Sochi Olympic orientation camp. He has a calm and collected nature in high pressure situations.

    • Kanuunankuula

      Did you just propose that Polak would fetch John Gibson??? Say it’s not so. Gibson is not a decent prospect. Gibson is one of the top 5 blue chip goal tending prospects in the league and future starter for Anaheim as he is already signed to an extension in the NHL. There are probably 3 players on the Leafs whole roster that could fetch a return of Gibson if traded to the Ducks and one of them is not Polak.

        • SEER

          I’m assuming you’re joking at this point. But these are the type of comments that make all other fans in the NHL, that are not Leafs fans, think that Leafs fans are the most clueless people in the world. Toronto’s top prospects are Nylander, Marner, Kapenen. Think about what we’d need to see to trade one of them. Anaheim’s top prospects are Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore, and John Gibson. You can safely assume that they’d need to see something similar for any of these players.

    • SEER

      Personally, I would rather we go after Andrei Vasilevskiy, in Tampa’s AHL at the moment…., if they are looking to acquire another rookie goalie.. Tampa has high “expectations” of making it far into playoffs this season… and if we threw in Bozak or Bernier, I bet we could get a couple of decent picks in the trade..

      But.., considering Edmonton’s track record at the drafts.., maybe we should be targeting them..? LOL!

      Here’s my sales pitch to add to the trade.., although I agree with Gary… and feel that we need to keep some defenisve d-men around here.. Another possibility that no media has mentioned, is that Granberg could be getting ready to return from his injury..? We all know how many people liked what they saw of him, last season here..



  • Gary Empey

    If you’re not going to get at least a 4th Rd Pick for Polak if you trade him now than you’re better off keeping him & trading him at the Deadline that way you maximize an on asset