Monday Mashup: Gardiner’s Up Next

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Jake Gardiner
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

With James Reimer’s negotiations settling on Friday, only Jake Gardiner remains of the Leafs‘ outstanding contract situations, and this contract quietly might be most interesting among all of the Leafs’ RFAs this off-season. Do the Maple Leafs bridge him with a 2 year deal or buy some UFA years on a long term contract, pay a little more than they would have in the next few seasons, and hope it pays off down the road?

The comparative thinking here being that $4.25 million for James van Riemsdyk until 2018 is ridiculously good value. We could also point out that the Buffalo Sabres probably wish they bridged Tyler Myers instead of going long term after his ELC expired. It’s harder to project with young defencemen, too, given ability to play bigger minutes against tough competition becomes the judgment call as opposed to projecting based mostly on point production.

It’s not always as doable at a price that makes sense. From the player’s perspective, it seems crazier and crazier deals are doled out to UFAs with every passing off-season and a young talent like Gardiner would be remiss to sign away his golden ticket UFA years if the offer is well below what he considers commensurate to his talent and potential. Last off season, the Leafs entertained the idea of a long-term deal with Nazem Kadri but found the salary demands were a little too rich and risky for their liking given Kadri was still under 100 games played in his NHL career — he was also in the awkward position of having produced nearly a point per game in a half-season sample in a more sheltered role.

What will the Leafs do with their like-aged defenceman?

Monday Links:

  • mike-username

    so this is when articles go up

  • AndrewGalea

    definitely bridging contract.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    My hope is 5mill at 7 years.
    Will he get that No
    Do the fans on here go for that No
    Oh well!

  • Great Dane

    Give Gardiner a 4 million cap hit – 6 years contract if they believe in him. When that is done and with the pipeline we have on defense Shanahan should move Franson to the Red Wings for Tomas Tatar, we might a to sweeten the pot a bit with a pick.

    Sign MDZ to a one year 1.25 million deal.
    If the team fly great, if they sink (what I would expect) then you have a large number of players that you can move out at the trade deadline as well as cap space to take on players that playoff teams want to unload.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    P.S
    another
    bridging contract really. So with impotent Nonis at the healm next
    summer we will see Franson walk as Nonis is incapable of a trade,
    Santorelli, Kontiola, Booth, Orr, Ashton, Kadri, Bodie, Smith, Franson,
    Bernier, Granberg, Holzer, Ross, McClaren, McKegg, Carrick all up for
    some sort of contract renewal.
    Hopefully all those deals going
    will show that Nonis is working hard and keep the fans happy with
    resigning to great contracts. Giving them a little bit of good news
    every week throughout the summer. Just enough to keep them dumbed down
    so they forget the fact that OH YEAH. No1 C and 1st line D-man. Do we
    still need them.
    Same next summer then, resign the 1 year deals,
    make another few splashes on free agency picking up has beens for 1
    million per. Are we the Leafs or Nashville, are we the worlds biggest
    hockey market or a hockey team in the middle of a scorching dessert
    (Arizona).
    Rinse and Repeat

  • MaxwellHowe

    My vote would be to sign him long term, tho I concede there is a risk there.  Maybe this is the type of issue Dubas may be asked to assess.  Gardiner would seem to be the type of player that drives puck possession, with his ability to make plays and participate in controlled entries into the offensive zone; the only question would be whether he can improve his defensive game and limit giveaways.  From what I saw, his giveaways tend to be at the opposition blue line and occur because he hesitates when holding the blue line.

  • Jordan29

    Definitely a bridge deal. I wouldnt be too pissed about a long term, but it doesnt make sense right now. Hes not shown enough yet. People like to forget he was average at best through the first 2/3rds of the season. You dont pay him cash for a good 1/3rd. We didnt pay Kadri the cash for a good 90% of a season or so

  • Ze_theLeafsFan

    I vote for long term. Salary cap is going up, our key players are signed for long term. Time to add him to that. There is no doubt in my mind that Gards will be a good D man. We know he will produce points.

  • vinoa

    Ze_theLeafsFan I think they’ll do that with Rielly, but not Gards.

  • LeafsGuru

    If leafs could sign MDZ on a 1 year 1 mil contract would be great, but would most likely mean gardiner gets a bridge deal. I would prefer a longer term but it would have to be at 4.25 for 5 years so that’s it’s moveable if he doesn’t pan out.

  • Yaknowwhat

    No way I would give Gardiner a long term big dollar deal at this point….he has all kinds of potential but still has alot to learn about playong defense….you have to see some form of consistency before you give him the longterm deal….I think he’ll be a solid player but it would be premature to hand him term/dollars now…if he stagnates or regresses you could be sitting on another contract that is extremely difficult to move….I got no problem with paying him if and when he proves himself….

  • Yaknowwhat

    I mentioned signing MDZ a couple months ago and got torched…lol…now I see it being suggested daily…

  • Yaknowwhat

    What a change…hot and humid to cool, windy and wet over the last 12 hours….nice change really….opened all the windows in the house…

  • PEIleafnation

    bridge deal get on with a franny deal  next

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks

  • Yaknowwhat

    I dont know if Nonis is bluffing but it sure sounds like he plans to keep Reimer around for awhile….likely the best course of action all things considered…..

  • Yaknowwhat

    Goooooooooood morning Bomber!!!!

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat Sup coach !  One more week till My Vacation, gonna catch me a Muskie, maybe :)

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat Yep, one thing about james, I no he wont sulk for long, he will come in and Battle, Push Bernier, for that reason alone I am glad we kept him, the fact that  he is a low end starter in a back up role on a friendly contract is nice as well lol

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat Why do you not like our goalies lol, what did they ever do to you lol

  • Yaknowwhat

    Just started my second week of vaca today….its been so nice not being on a schedule…eat sleep and do whatever you want…been playing a ton of golf…floating in the pool….bbqing…suds and sun….I am definently ready to retire…lol

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat 100 percent, these people that go back ! to work, after they Retire, Wow, just wow lol

  • Yaknowwhat

    Yep…Reims is a battler….you cant question his work ethic…and Bernies inability to stay healthy concerns me a bit so having Reims as an insurance policy isnt a bad thing….hopefully he plays well and increases his trade value…its a win win for the team no matter what…

  • Yaknowwhat

    Never understood that either…the moment I can retire is the moment I am done working for good…lol

  • Yaknowwhat

    I like our goalies…

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat Period !

  • Mind Bomb

    Yaknowwhat hahah

  • PEIleafnation

    pei vacation time

  • Leafs2 Isles1

    I don’t like the idea of giving Gardiner a long term deal. He’s got too many defensive flaws. I also question his attitude. People might want to think that the problem is more with Carlyle than with Gardiner. But he was traded by Anaheim for a reason. Some might say that he just has to mature. But he’s 24 years old.

  • Groundhogday

    I think a bridge deal is best for Gardiner.  Simply because he has incredible talent but I think lacks some on ice discipline.

  • Burtonboy

    Nonis hasn’t shown an interest in doing long term deals for young players so far and I’m not expecting it to happen this time either . One wrinkle in this….. Shanahan. Whats his perspective on this I wonder ?

  • dlb Mad

    Burtonboy 
    i hope he’s smart enough to listen to Nonis

  • Mind Bomb

    dlb Mad Burtonboy Me to, Bridge gardiner, Save he long term for Rielly !

  • Burtonboy

    dlb Mad Burtonboy I have enough faith in Gardiner to give it to him . I would have given one to Kadri as well.

  • wendelsway1

    Good Morning Gents….Just in from the cottage…..very happy Reims signed and avoided arbitration.   I’m a big supporter of bridge contracts and I expect to see Gards signed to one, no muss, no fuss.

  • peterbleafs

    Groundhogday I agree

  • dlb Mad

    Leafs2 Isles1 
    he’s really improved in a lot of areas, though.  i’m more interested in seeing what he can do with his offensive abilities.  if he can put the other team on its heels and generate scoring chances and move pucks up ice regularily then i’ll overlook some flaws.
    remember Doughty in the playoffs?  he made a couple of big mistakes every game it seemed.  but the coach keeps throwing him out there because at the end of the night he’s going to be in on more goals for than against, and all the important ones.

  • Jmessih

    Gardiner 5 years @ 3.9 Mil
    Really doubt Jake takes it, but I’d push hard for a deal in that region.

  • dlb Mad

    @Burtonboy
    how much faith?  if he thinks he’s a young star in the making, will long term deals be 5m or will they be even more?
    5 years, 4 million sure.  but i can’t see Jake agreeing to that.

  • dlb Mad

    wendelsway1 
    if you said that to Jake he’d give you one of his famous blank stares

  • Mind Bomb

    wendelsway1 Morning WW

  • Burtonboy

    dlb Mad You never know unless you try . I do agree that getting Gards and Naz to sign JVR type deals might be hard . I’m sure JVR has told them “don’t do what I did”  lol

  • dlb Mad

    Leafs2 Isles1 
    i also think that in the trade, ANA just liked Beauchemin a lot more than people here could fathom.  so, with Lupul’s health a question mark at the time, i think they had to include a good prospect.  i agree that they probably didn’t have him ranked as one of their top prospects, though.

  • dlb Mad

    Burtonboy
    i’m sure they’ll try.
    but if Jake counters with 6 years, 6 million … do you go back to the 2 year bridge discussion or do you entertain him a little longer?
    and if JVR is thinking he left money on the table, he’s greedy imo.  he’ll get his big payday soon enough.  he should be telling Jake and Naz to “do what i did because they’ll love you and we’ll get a better team” or something we’d like to hear.

  • dlb Mad

    when the page loads, could we have some background music play?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWBoMWZJkeI

  • Leafs2 Isles1

    dlb Mad Leafs2 Isles1  The difference with Doughty is that he was making mistakes while being targeted by some of the best teams and players in the NHL. By targeted, I mean that the other teams were studying video to work on his weaknesses. Gardiner gives the puck away against average teams and too often. 

    I’m all for throwing him out there and showing confidence in him. That’s the reason for the bridge. To see how he responds.

  • Mind Bomb

    dlb Mad top 10 flick ever made bro ! :)

  • Beleafer29

    I am from Minnesota, I know Jake and his family. He has never been a player with an “attitude”. Confidence? For sure! He really wanted to make the Leafs coming out of college, and he did.
    As far as his verbiage to Carlyle, it was a young kid speaking to a old hockey guy, coach or not Gardy took a stand. He was by far our better defenseman the last 15 games of the season, and his skills showed.
    Jake wants to stay in TO, he is in the top 4 at a young age. Carlyle has been a professional longer. Carlyle should have spoke his mind to Gardy, and only Gardy. Carlyle speaking out about Jake is more egg on Carlyle then, Gardy!
    Good Luck Jake, go get what you having coming, my Minnesota bro!
    Go Leafs Go!!!

  • Leafs2 Isles1

    dlb Mad Leafs2 Isles1 I’ve read that Anaheim was upset that he went back to College Hockey when they asked him to play a year of Junior in Canada. The feeling was that he thought he knew more than Anaheim’s scouts and coaches on what was best for him. That would match some of the speculation that Carlyle thinks Gardiner has too high of an opinion of himself.

  • dlb Mad

    Leafs2 Isles1 
    i’ve been one of Gardiner’s biggest detractor here, suggesting we’re waiting to see if his brain can catch up to his legs. 
    i think he’s improved in a lot of areas defensively, so i just wanted to bud in and say i don’t see the same defensive issues as a plague any more.
    but it’s with the puck that makes it and breaks it for me (with him).  i saw improvement there when he played with more purpose and focus.  some games he lacks focus still, and that’s when he looks bad as you say.
    Doughty gets tough minutes, sure…but Jake has talent to do the same things with that he does…if his brain works.
    i wouldn’t assume it will, though.  i’m all for a 2 year deal, even if he turns out incredible and costs us 9 million a year to extend him…because a player that good would be great.