In the past two off-seasons the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Roman Polak to a contract. And both seasons he has had more bad games than good games for the team. Last year they managed to flip him and Nick Spaling for two second round picks and Raffi Torres’ contract and then they signed him again in the summer because one can never have enough of Roman Polak. So, should the Winnipeg Jets do what the bright minds of Toronto did last summer and sign Polak?
Polak is over 30 and has struggled for a few years now. He has had to sign one year contracts for the past couple of seasons and has not played on a pairing above the third pairing for longer than that. The Jets have players like this signed already. Mark Stuart is entering the final year of his contract and Ben Chiarot is a restricted free agent this summer. There is little reason for the Jets to sign another defenceman who struggles with the puck and who does not list mobility as a strength.
Polak is not all bad; he does have a few stretches of strong play over the past two seasons, but his lows are really low and that is a problem for any team looking to sign him. When a player is not just an inconsistent producer, but inconsistent at driving play a team should be concerned. Points are caused by luck and while players can do things to change their luck, luck is an uncontrollable part of hockey. With Polak there has never been a lot of points and now with his play being so inconsistent and usually bad, there should be few teams even interested in him.
Polak is a certain type of defenceman and that type is, in the words of French hockey data analyst Olivier Bouchard, is big and hitty. Big and hitty defencemen have met their day and are slowly leaving the league. While they still have their uses, since the salary cap came into effect in 2005 players have had to be more versatile to justify their position on the team and their cap hit. Polak is simply not a versatile enough player to do that. Furthermore, he would be competing with Stuart for ice time and does any team need two Mark Stuarts on the ice? (There is nothing wrong with a team having multiple Mark Stuart-types off the ice).
Should the Winnipeg Jets sign Roman Polak or should they let the Toronto Maple Leafs make the same mistake three years in a row?