Roman Polak (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Maple Leafs are continuing to sell as the deadline approaches, and Roman Polak and Nick Spaling find themselves headed to the San Jose Sharks. In return, Toronto acquired second-round picks in 2017 and 2018, as well as veteran winger Raffi Torres.
There’s still one week remaining before the trade deadline, but the Maple Leafs are already getting their fire sale started. First, Toronto completed a deal to ship Shawn Matthias to the Colorado Avalanche, and now Maple Leafs fans can say goodbye to Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, as both have been dealt to the San Jose Sharks.
Aside from the Maple Leafs bringing on Torres, nothing about the trade is too surprising. Toronto has plenty of expiring contracts, most of which are expected to be moved at or near the deadline. Both Polak and Spaling, like Matthias, are set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
There’s a good chance Polak and Spaling could be suiting up for the Sharks as early as Monday night when San Jose visits the St. Louis Blues, but don’t expect Torres to be in the Maple Leafs’ lineup Tuesday against the Nashville Predators. Torres, 34, was assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies upon the announcement of the trade and subsequently loaned to the San Jose Barracuda.
For San Jose, the acquisitions are low-risk, high-reward deals that can bolster the team’s depth.
Polak, 29, has been a steady second-pairing defenseman in Toronto and will likely continue on as a second- or third-pairing defender in San Jose. While he’s not an offensive star or a top-pairing blueliner, it was expected Polak would draw significant interest at the deadline. He’s a good acquisition for a Sharks team that needed to strengthen the bottom-half of their defense entering the post-season. He has even chipped in a bit offensively, with one goal and 13 points in 55 games.
As for Spaling, he’ll patch the holes the Sharks have shown on their third and fourth lines. In 35 games, the 27-year-old has one goal and seven points while averaging more than 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Unless they move out money, this is likely the final move for the Sharks with the deadline approaching. Per CapFriendly, San Jose has less than $300,000 in cap space to work with following the acquisitions of Polak and Spaling. For the Maple Leafs, though, they’re probably far from finished.
Toronto still has several unrestricted free agents remaining on the roster, including Michael Grabner, P-A Parenteau, Mark Arcobello and Brad Boyes. After shipping out Polak and Spaling, the Maple Leafs have more than $4.5 million available at the deadline, which increases to more than $9.5 million with Nathan Horton on long-term injured reserve.