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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. 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." 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Sports columnist Marc Spears says that the Boogie Smooth album may have been an elaborate April Fools prank.SAINT JOHN, N.B. - Nathan Noel Scored four goals — including three in the third period — as the Saint John Sea Dogs came from behind to defeat the visiting Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 6-4 on Friday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.Adam Marsh and Thomas Chabot also scored for the Sea Dogs (25-14-7), who trailed 3-0 early in the second period, while Spencer Smallman tacked on three assists.Stephen Anderson had a pair of goals for the Screaming Eagles (18-22-5), who had their five-game win streak halted.Blade Mann-Dixon earned the victory by stopping 20-of-21 shots in 38:33 of relief. Alex Bishop started in net for Saint John and allowed three goals on 17 shots before getting pulled.Cape Bretons Alexandre Belanger kicked out 29-of-35 shots in defeat.The Sea Dogs went 2 for 6 on the power play while the Screaming Eagles scored once on eight chances with the man advantage.---ISLANDERS 2 TITAN 1CHARLOTTETOWN — Filip Chlapik broke a 1-1 deadlock at 18:20 of the third period to lift the Islanders over Acadie-Bathurst.Spenser Cobbold also scored for Charlottetown (24-19-4), which has gone 5-0-2 in its past seven outings, while Mason McDonald stopped 15-of-16 shots.Andrew Ryan scored for the Titan (13-31-5), who have dropped six straight games. Reilly Pickard made 25 saves in defeat.---REMPARTS 6 MOOSEHEADS 1QUEBEC CITY — Adam Erne had a goal and four assists and Zachary Fucale made 24 saves against his former club as the Remparts toppled Halifax.Nikolas Brouillard scored once and set up two more for Quebec (27-17-3) while Marc-Olivier Roy, Massimo Carozza, Guillaume Gauthier and Jerome Verrier added the others.Maxime Fortier scored for the Mooseheads (22-19-4) while Nikolaj Ehlers picked up an assist to extend his point streak to 19 games. Eric Brassard started in goal for Halifax but left the game late in the second period after stopping 19-of-20 shots. Kevin Reop gave up five goals on 15 shots in 22:59 of relief to take the loss. ---FOREURS 4 PHOENIX 2SHERBROOKE, Que. — Julien Gauthier had a pair of goals and Etienne Monpetit stopped 31 shots as Val-dOr doubled up the Phoenix.ddddddddddddimon Tremblay and Nicolas Aube-Kubel also scored for the Foreurs (20-20-7), while Anthony Beauregard tacked on three assists.David Sorto scored both goals for Sherbrooke (24-17-4) as Alex Bureau turned aside 27-of-31 shots in defeat.ValdOrs Jeremie Fraser was handed a major penalty and game misconduct midway through the second period for hitting from behind.---HUSKIES 2 SAGUENEENS 1 (OT)CHICOUTIMI, Que. — Julien Nantel scored at 2:07 of overtime as Rouyn-Noranda slipped past the Sagueneens.Redgie Bois also scored for the Huskies (23-20-3), who got an 18-save outing from Samuel Harvey.Laurent Dauphin supplied the offence for Chicoutimi (19-19-5) while Julio Billia stopped 25-of-27 shots in a losing cause.---ARMADA 6 OCEANIC 3BOISBRIAND, Que. — Danick Martel and Nikita Jevpalovs each had two goals and two assists as the Armada beat Rimouski for their fourth straight victory.Marc-Antoine Bouillon and Daniel Walcott also scored for the Armada (28-12-5) as Marc-Antoine Turcotte made 22 saves for the win.Frederik Gauthier, Samuel Morin and Michael Joly found the back of the net for the Oceanic (29-13-3), who had their five-game win streak stopped. Philippe Desrosiers gave up three goals on 10 shots before giving way to Louis-Philip Guindon, who stopped 11-of-14 shots in 34:51 of relief.---VOLTIGEURS 1 OLYMPIQUES 0DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. — Anthony Brodeur stopped all 25 shots his way as the Voltigeurs blanked Gatineau.Trevor Bush scored the games only goal for Drummondville (22-21-3) at 9:03 of the second period.Francois Brassard turned away 14-of-15 shots for the Olympiques (18-25-4), who had their three-game win streak snapped.---CATARACTES 4 TIGRES 2SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Anthony Beauvillier scored once and set up three more as the Cataractes handed Victoriaville its fifth loss in a row. while Chase Marchand stopped 2Deniis Yan, Alexis DAoust and Olivier Caouette also scored for Shawinigan (26-18-2) and Marvin Cupper made 27 saves for the win.Mathieu Ayotte and Gabriel Gagne scored for the Tigres (21-21-5) while Chase Marchand stopped 26-of-29 shots in a losing cause.--- Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap Adidas Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Nike Baseball Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys From China Wholesale Jerseys China Wholesale NFL Jerseys China Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Nike NBA Jerseys Authentic Cheap NHL Jerseys Canada Cheap Nike MLB Jerseys Cheap Soccer Jerseys China NCAA Jerseys Cheap Nike NHL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap Football Jerseys Store Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Jerseys NCAA China Jerseys NFL Cheap Cheap Nike NBA Jerseys ' ' '


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