Roman Polak signs a $1.1M, one-year deal with the #leafs.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 22, 2017
Roman Polak Returns to the Leafs
The deal is worth $1.1 million, less than half of what Polak earned last year when he made $2.25 Million (per Cap Friendly)
This will mark Polak’s fourth season with the club. Polak had a brief stop in San Jose after the 2015-16 trade deadline. The 31-year old Czech native contributed 4 goals and 7 assists through 75 games last season. He played mostly on the third pairing with now-Pittsburgh Penguins defender Matt Hunwick.
A Surprise Signing
The move comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the Leafs’ defense core was already heavy on bodies. New arrivals Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen have split games on the third pairing with third-year Leaf Connor Carrick, whose spot in the top four is now occupied by veteran Ron Hainsey.
Presumably, the Leafs elected to bring back Polak in an effort to spread out their Penalty Kill minutes among defensemen. Previously, Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev had been tasked almost exclusively with killing penalties. The pair logged an average of 6:02 and 5:18 per game respectively shorthanded. The next highest defenseman, Morgan Rielly, averaged only 1:46.
Cause For Concern
The biggest point of concern surrounding Polak’s return is his mobility following the devastating broken leg he suffered following a hit by Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik during last year’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Polak, already a notoriously slow skater, will likely be further handicapped by the severity of his injury, bringing into question just how much he will be able to contribute to the club defensively.
Furthermore, it looks like we will not have to wait long to see Polak’s in-game return:
Based on who's out for #Leafs optional skate, looks like Roman Polak is slotting in for Connor Carrick tonight and Moore in over Fehr.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 23, 2017
Roman Polak and the Leafs face off against the Los Angeles Kings at the Air Canada Centre tonight at 7 pm Eastern.