31-Year-Old Defenseman – Free Agent
Roman Polak Contract Information:
Signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs in July 2016.
Polak (lower leg) told reporters he anticipates being healthy for the start of the 2017-18 campaign, James Mirtle of The Athletic reports.
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Roman Polak: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Polak isnít much of an offensive contributor, nor are his advanced stats attractive. But the guy is tough and he pushes his mates to take responsibility for their poor play. Remember when he called out his teammates for not playing solid defensive hockey back in January? He said the Leafs didnít play well ďbecause itís hard workĒ and the team didnít like to do that. Harsh, but true. The average-skating defender leads on and off the ice, and will toil on the teamís second pairing. Heíll deliver hits, but nothing more for fantasy. Even that's contingent on him staying healthy -- after sitting out 10 games as a Blue the prior season, he missed 26 in his first campaign with the Leafs.
Polak is tough, we'll give him that. He can drop his gloves - see YouTube for evidence of that - lay hits and block shots, but he won't deliver much fantasy goodness for your squad. Odds are good he will spend the season as the defensive-minded partner of a more offensive-minded puck-moving defenseman like Franson, Gardiner or Reilly. Let a Leaf fan tie this anchor on their squad.
Coming off a year limited to 55 games by an early-season wrist injury, the Blues were pleased enough with Polak to reward him with a five-year contract extension. Though a minus-4, Polak continued to be a team leader in hits and blocked shots, willing to do the dirty work in all corners of the ice. Heís not going to be much of a fantasy player, but heís the stay-at-home type that allows someone like Alex Pietrangelo to take chances offensively.
Polak impressively improved his plus/minus from minus-15 in 2008-09 to plus-7 last season. Still just 23, Polak has gained a ton of experience in St. Louis over the last two years, becoming one of the team's better stay-at-home defenders. He'll pair up with Barret Jackman, just like last year, and continue to be a top-six defender, skating 20 minutes a night.
Polak was given a bigger role than expected last year because of the injuries to Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer. He showed enough to earn himself a two-year deal in the offseason and should remain a high-minutes guy on defense. His spot is assured among the top six defenders.
Eric Brewer, Jay McKee and Barrett Jackman are the only healthy defensemen listed on the Blues' Official Site's Depth Chart. None of those three can be considered much of an offensive threat. So, we expect Polak to make the team out of camp but his performance will determine how long he stays there. His value is minimal right now but the 22-year-old Czech defender is worth keeping an eye on.
Polak will likely not see any serious minutes on the Blues' blue line this season, with names like Jay McKee, Eric Brewer, Christian Backman, Barret Jackman and Bryce Salvador a virtual lock to be the team's top five d-men. Pencil in the highly anticipated Erik Johnson as the number six guy, and there isn't much room left after that. Look for Polak to compete for a backup spot with the likes of Matt Walker and Jeff Woywitka.