The Sharks acquired three players from the Toronto Maple Leafs at last season’s trade deadline. If you want a sense of their importance to the Sharks’ run, look no further than the contracts they signed this offseason.
One signed a five-year deal in Florida, another returned to Toronto, and one is now playing in Europe. That middle player, Roman Polak, was a bit of a mixed bag.
His and Nick Spaling’s acquisitions were ones we initially weren’t very high on, but Polak did provide needed depth as the Sharks’ blueline was dinged up down the stretch.
Polak played with Brenden Dillon on the Sharks’ third pairing in the postseason, and they were decent together in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Once the Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Final, the pair’s flaws were exposed en route to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup Final victory.
The Sharks opted not to sign Polak this offseason, and replaced him with David Schlemko on the third pairing. Schlemko and Dillon have thrived together, providing further proof that Dillon and Polak simply were not a good fit together.
Polak signed a one-year deal to return to Toronto this offseason, and very well could find himself on the move at the trade deadline once again. Toronto sits in decent position to make a run for the postseason, as they have games in hand on many of the teams ahead of them in the Atlantic, so he may just stay put this year.
Polak’s produced points at a decent rate, but his possession numbers just don’t cut it at the NHL level. The comparison chart between Polak and his replacement, David Schlemko, isn’t much prettier.
From the Archives
Ahead of game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Jake succinctly summed up the struggles of the Dillon/Polak pairing (emphasis mine):
They also start more frequently in the offensive zone than in the defensive end of the ice, meaning it's a lot easier to get positive possession play going.
Did you think it couldn't get worse? Well...they're also playing against the weakest competition of any Sharks defender.
You already knew this, of course, but to reiterate: Dillon and Polak are posting bad possession numbers with the most favorable zone starts against the easiest available competition. That is not very good, friends.