Blues fans woke up this morning to the news that was pretty much expected but has now been made official. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson has announced he is retiring from the game of hockey.
629 Games. 1 #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) June 23, 2021
Career Of Carl Gunnarsson
Carl Gunnarsson finishes his career with 629 games played, playing the final 325 games as a St. Louis Blue. “Boom Boom” will forever be known as the Blues’ first game-winning goal scorer in Stanley Cup Final history with his overtime winner in Game 2 of the 2019 final against the Boston Bruins. The Orebro, Sweden native was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he spent the first five seasons of his career before being traded to St. Louis, along with a fourth-round pick, ahead of the 2014-15 season in exchange for defenseman Roman Polak.
While Polak was considered a fan favorite in St. Louis, Carl Gunnarsson left no doubt as to who won this trade as he would go on to play his final seven seasons in St. Louis. Primarily a “stay at home” defenseman, Gunnarsson provided security on the left side of the blue line, often being paired with a young Colton Parayko during his early days in the league and eventually finding himself on the top pair alongside Alex Pietrangelo during the team’s 2019 run to its first Stanley Cup.
Coming into this season, it was widely assumed among Blues fans that this would be the final year for Gunnarsson in St. Louis, and likely, hockey in general. A serious knee injury in February that ended his season all but confirmed that he would be hanging up the skates after this year.
Gunnarsson’s departure frees up $1,750,000 in salary cap space for next season, though I anticipate that he will be replaced from within the organization, as young left-handed defensemen Niko Mikkola and Jake Walman took big strides this season and will undoubtedly be looking for more ice time next season.
Main image credit