Maple Leafs Trade Roman Polak, Nick Spaling to Sharks for Raffi Torres, Picks

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2016

The Toronto Maple Leafs' Roman Polak during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to send defenseman Roman Polak and center Nick Spaling to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for winger Raffi Torres and second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.

Polak, 29, has posted 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) through his first 55 appearances this season. He was in his second season in Toronto after an eight-year stint with the St. Louis Blues. 

Spaling, 27, had a total of seven points (one goal, six assists) in 35 appearances. He was in his first season with the Maple Leafs.

Per the release, Toronto is planning to reassign Torres to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda. The 34-year-old has not appeared in an NHL game since the 2013-14 season. He was suspended for 41 games in October after illegally checking Anaheim Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg in the head. It is the longest suspension ever given out for a hit on another player.

He's playing in the final season of a three-year deal originally signed in 2013, and it would be a mild surprise if Torres ever appeared in a game for the Leafs. Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Sun doesn't think Torres will play for the Leafs:

In the midst of a full-scale rebuild, Toronto is currently tied with the Edmonton Oilers for the fewest points (50) in the NHL. The front office has made a concerted effort to move its most tradable assets, with defenseman Dion Phaneuf and winger Colin Greening already being sent to Ottawa.

Polak, a tough, grind-it-out defender, is the jewel of this deal for San Jose. The former sixth-round pick cultivated a reputation as one of the NHL's toughest defenders in St. Louis before carrying over that effort in Toronto the last two years. 

“He’s mean, he’s a man, he comes to play every night,” coach Mike Babcock said, per Mark Zwolinski of the Star.

Polak is in the final year of his contract, so this may wind up being a mere rental for San Jose. The Sharks currently sit sixth in the Western Conference but could use an infusion of toughness. They are 17th in goals allowed per game and rank below league average in nearly every important defensive category. Adding Polak now should give them some much-needed toughness for the stretch run.