PHILADELPHIA – Restructuring the Toronto defence was primary in the objectives of Maple Leafs management as they strode into the busiest stage of a lengthy offseason. Sabres Jerseys 2020 . And on the final day of draft weekend, they took the first step toward doing just that. Carl Gunnarsson, selected with the 194th overall pick at the draft in Columbus seven years earlier, was dealt to St. Louis on Saturday morning for thick Czech defenceman and longtime Blue, Roman Polak. He is the first addition to a roster that promised to change following another late season meltdown. Adjustment to a mismatched and ineffective back-end was a must for the Leafs, who finished near the league basement defensively last season – yielding more shots against than any other club. Polak, while not an upgrade to the steady, but increasingly over-taxed Gunnarsson, does offer a different kind of presence to the Toronto defence, something brawnier and edgier for head coach Randy Carlyle, if not quite better. Gunnarsson, it was ultimately deemed, could be replaced on the top pairing with something similar internally. "We like our defence individually," general manager Dave Nonis said after the final round of the draft was completed on Saturday afternoon, "[but] we didnt necessarily like how they fit together last year. We wanted to move some pieces and change the look, rebuild it a little bit. I wouldnt say its a major overhaul by doing something like this, but it does give us a different element and its a player we didnt really have." Maybe more significant is how the trade promises to open up further opportunity for the clubs two top guns on defence: Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. By removing Gunnarsson – who teamed with Dion Phaneuf on left side of the top pair – and adding the right-handed Polak, the Leafs opened up room for Rielly and Gardiner to become more prominent members of the defence. Rielly should move from a place on the bottom pair to something more substantial in the top-four. Gardiner, who led the team in even-strength ice-time, might be the one to replace Gunnarsson on the top pair. "Those guys are going to have to take steps forward," Nonis said of the promising duo. "It might be a lot to ask for Morgan a little bit in his second year, but he made some pretty big strides last year and we would expect that hell take some more next [year]. And I think Jake is a good possibility [of doing the same] as well." Left-handed shots, Rielly and Gardiner were both forced to play the right side often last season – nearly the entire season for the rookie – due to the rarity of right-handed defenders on the Toronto defence (Gardiner, specifically, struggled with the change and eventually had to move back to the left). The addition of the 6-foot-1, 227-pound Polak will ease that glut and allow more options for Carlyle. The Blues, who ranked third in the league defensively a year ago, employed Polak in shutdown capacities as well as on their second-ranked penalty kill. He was known in St. Louis as a fierce, physical competitor willing to play through injury. The 28-year-old, who has two years remaining on a five-year contract ($2.75 million cap hit), led the Blues defence in hits and finished second in blocked shots. "Hes a tough guy to play against," Nonis said of Polak, picked in the sixth round of 2004 Draft. "If you look at the minutes he plays he often plays against teams top players. He is very physical, hes very strong. I think theres a perception that because hes so big hes not mobile, I dont think thats true at all. We think that one of his strengths is his skating ability. Hes going to provide a little bit of edge." The fifth overall pick in 2012, Rielly had a fine first season in Toronto, demonstrating improvement with each passing month. He finished with 27 points in nearly 18 minutes of nightly work, emerging as one of the Leafs top possession players in 73 games. It remains to be seen whether he can climb another rung as a sophomore next season though the organization is certainly hopeful based on all that they saw a year ago. "We are hoping that he improves next year," said Nonis. "He may not. He might go through a year where hes not quite ready to go up the lineup, but were comfortable that hes going to get there and hes going to be an impact player and were going to give him an opportunity to do that." Gardiner, meanwhile, finished a rollercoaster third season on a high. He was easily the teams best defenceman down the stretch of another alarming late season collapse, totaling five goals and 14 points in the final 21 games. "Jakes going to have times where [the media] sitting below me in the press-box will hear me smacking on the wall, but the fact is hes got God-given ability that you just cant teach," Nonis said of the 23-year-old. "I think hes getting the other part of his game under control. The last half of the season the turnovers and some of the mistakes he was making earlier were decreasing … He did come a long way." Nonis expects the Leafs to be active at the outset of free agency on July 1st. He was inclined to add another defenceman to the mix, while stating his acceptance to the status quo if furthers upgrades were unavailable. Gunnarsson had mixed feelings after a five-year stay in Toronto. He received word of the trade shortly after 11 a.m. on Saturday morning and was "kind of shocked". "I didnt expect it," he told TSN.ca, still piecing together the emotions of his first trade in the NHL. "Sucks leaving Toronto…its been great." Pat LaFontaine Jersey . Future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray is in his prime and back for a third season in double blue. The 34-year old was magnificent in 2013, throwing for just under 2,900 yards despite missing eight games, tossing an impressive 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions, completing 66 per cent of his passes in the process. Linus Ullmark Jersey .I get texts: Do you know Drake? Have you met Drake? He sits there every night, he hears me cuss out the referees every night, Casey said, laughing.Fernandinho has admitted Man Citys title hopes are out of their hands following their goalless draw with Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday and that finishing in the top four is now a must. The Brazilian midfielder has conceded that City will now depend on results elsewhere after they dropped two potential points against relegation-threatened Norwich. Fourth-placed City are now just two points clear of fifth-placed West Ham, and their draw on Saturday means Manuel Pellegrinis side now sit nine points behind leaders Leicester, who play Newcastle live on Sky Sports 1 on Monday. Fernandinho expressed his disappointment at the result, but believes that even if the trophy may be unattainable, securing Champions League qualification with a place in the top four is crucial for City. Raheem Sterling and Martin Olsson react after the goalless draw Everyone is disappointed about the result. The performance wasnt whats expected, but we have to look forward, Fernandinho told City TV.Its tough to drop points like that. We have nine games to play and, even if we dont have the chance to be champions, we have to finish in the top four.There is always a chance (of the title), especially with this team. No one gives up, fight to the end. We need to wait for other results to see what position well be in at the end of the weekend. Joe Hart was disappointed with Manchester City’s draw against Norwich and didn’t think they were good enough to win it City will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the very first time when they face Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday at home. Rick Martin Jersey. They head into the last-16 second leg with a 3-1 lead, and Fernandinho said the disappointing result against Norwich will provide motivation for his team-mates. He added: It is the first time we have a chance to go forward to the quarter-final. Its a big step for the club, for everyone. This [result at Norwich] should give us more motivation to play on Tuesday.The point Norwich secured against City was just their second in 10 games, and their next four games against West Brom, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Sunderland will largely determine if they have a Premier League future. Timm Klose said that Norwichs hard work helped his side to their second point in only ten games We worked hard and we did a great job, defender Timm Klose said.Its hard to defend against Sergio Aguero because of his movement and pace, but we kept him away as much as possible.We know we need to strong in the next few games now, to focus and work hard as a team. Thats what we must do to get away from the bottom three.We wont look too far ahead so will take things step by step. Its important we focus on our game next weekend for now. Also See: Pellegrini wont give up on title Redknapp: Diabolical from Man City Man City hopes hurt by draw Man City fixtures ' ' '
Wix Forum is the perfect tool to connect with your site visitors, build a community & drive more traffic to your site! Have something to say? Click Create New Post to start your own discussion. What else can you do with your forum? Give it a catchy name, create unlimited categories and choose from beautiful layouts like Card or Classic. If your forum has lots of images, then a Card layout is the one for you! A Classic layout is perfect for long text discussions. Plus, both layouts look great on desktop and mobile. After you’ve picked your layout, customize it with stunning design features to make your forum look just right.