The Toronto Maple Leafs took a huge step in balancing their defense. According to TSN’s Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, Jake Gardiner has been given a five year contract with Toronto. Under the new deal, the 24 year old defenceman will earn $4.05m per season. There has been much debate over whether or not this deal is too expensive or not.
At first I thought $20.25m was far too expensive for this kid. However, when looking at statistics, I believe the amount is fair. Gardiner finished second in points for Leafs defenceman tallying an impressive total of 31 points last season. This kid does get caught pinching in quite a bit, but I’m confident he’ll improve moving forward. This guy is full of raw talent and if he continues to take his chances and shoot the puck more, he’ll score a lot more goals this season.
Jack Gardiner is definitely one of the Leafs better defenceman. He’s not afraid to take chances, throw his weight around and take shots from any position. Plus he’s one of the fastest defenceman the Leafs have at present. Gardiner has proven to be quite an asset on Toronto’s powerplay units as well. 13 of his 31 points came on the powerplay last season.
With the contract issues dealt with, Jake Gardiner can now continue to improve his skills and fight for a spot on the number one defensive line for Toronto. The question now becomes, which line will head Coach Randy Carlyle place Gardiner on. With Tim Gleason, Paul Ranger and Carl Gunnarsson all gone, it’s clear that Gardiner will probably be getting a considerable increase in ice time.
I believe Gardiner would have great success on a line with veteran Stephen Robidas or Roman Polak. These new arrivals will certainly provide the Leafs with a little more depth in the defensive end. Gardiner will definitely improve under the veteran leadership of Robidas. I really hope this will be one of the Leafs lines at some point this season. It will be interesting to see what other changes are to the Leafs defence as a result of this signing.
Toronto doesn’t have much cap space to work with thanks to this deal. Perhaps this signing means that the organization plans to move one of their bigger name players like Dion Phaneuf or David Clarkson. Regardless, this team is in a pretty tough position right now.