The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenceman Roman Polak to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million. Polak, 31, suffered a broken leg in Game Two of Toronto’s playoff series against the Washington Capitals, but was practicing with the team throughout the start of the regular season. He played in 75 games with the Maple Leafs in the 2016-2017 campaign, registering four goals and seven assists during this time.
Polak is known for his ability to eat minutes on the penalty kill, which looks to be a major reason behind this signing:
The Leafs are still basically only playing two defencemen on the penalty kill pic.twitter.com/B6dYOkZpDv— Draglikepull (@draglikepull) October 21, 2017
Despite his reputation as a strong penalty killer and locker room presence, Polak graded out as Toronto’s worst player last season in terms of Goals Above Replacement (GAR). He is not a strong puck carrier or skater, and this limits his ability to create controlled zone exits or entries.
With a full 23-player roster, Toronto will be forced to make a corresponding move in order to clear a spot for Polak. Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman are the main candidates to be sent down to the Toronto Marlies, as the Leafs are already carrying seven defencemen.
It remains to be seen how this will alter Toronto’s lineup going forward. Polak is a right-shooting defenceman, and Connor Carrick has been playing on the right-side of the third pairing thus far. While Polak is not a lock to be in the lineup every night, he was rarely in the press box last season.