\ Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs Player Preview: Carl Gunnarsson


The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.

Who:

Carl Gunnarsson, No. 36, defenseman | 6’2″, 196 LBS | 26-years old.

ToT Approved Nicknames:

Gunnarsson is way too long of a name to say all the time, so Gunnar seems to be the most logical nickname for Gunnarsson…plus he kind of looks like Gunnar Stahl. (WHY DID YOU GO GLOVE HAND ON JULIE THE CAT)

History:

4 NHL seasons, all with Toronto, 224 career games

Contract Status:

$3.15-million/season; through 2015-2016

Career Stats:

224 GP 12 Goals 57 Assists 69 Points

2012/2013 Stats:

37 GP 1 Goals 14 Assists 15 Points

Nerd Stats:

On-ice Corsi -14.21; PDO: 1040

You Oughta Know:

Judging by his Twitter feed Gunnarsson is an avid soccer fan. He appears to support Liverpool FC (and of course Toronto FC).

Looking Back:

Gunnarsson has had a steady albeit unspectacular career thus far with the Toronto Maple Leafs. When given the opportunity he has looked comfortable skating alongside Captain Dion Phaneuf, and done an admirable job as Phaneuf’s safety blanket for when he inevitably has one of his “uh-oh” moments.

Gunnarsson’s value as Phaneuf’s partner was truly evident last season when Randy Carlyle saw fit to skate Phaneuf with AHL caliber partners in favour of Gunnarsson, leading to more than a few head shaking moments.

Overall Gunnarsson is a steady two-way defenseman that always seems to be in the correct position. While he doesn’t have the flair for the dramatic that some fans associate with effectiveness, his ability to read the game well allows him to be effective in negating the oppositions attack.

With is above average puck moving skills, one would think that Gunnarsson would be more of an offensive force, but he has yet to put that aspect of his game together in the NHL. If he does find a way to contribute offensively, Gunnarsoon will look like an absolute steal at $3.15-million.

What to Expect:

The Maple Leafs new found depth at defense will hopefully force Randy Carlyle into playing Dion Phaneuf with a competent partner, and in my books that competent partner is Carl Gunnarsson. Gunnarsson’s excellent positioning and risk averse style make him an ideal partner for the risk taking Phaneuf.

In an ideal world Phaneuf and Gunnarsson will be tasked night in and night out with shutting down the oppositions top units, and will occasionally contribute offensively. With offensive defensemen Jake Gardiner and (hopefully) Cody Franson on the roster, Gunnarsson will likely receive minimal time on the power play, but should still be able to chip in the occasional assist with his above average passing abilities.

I feel safe penciling Gunnarsson in for somewhere around 5 goals and 20 points, almost all of which will likely be at even strength. Gunnarsson has the opportunity to end the carousel of partners for Dion Phaneuf that has been ongoing since he arrived in Toronto. Given an actual competent partner for an entire season, Phaneuf might actually be able to show the people of Toronto how effective of a defenseman he actually is.

Tags: Carl Gunnarsson Toronto Maple Leafs