Monday Mashup: Gardiner’s Up Next

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?

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  • 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

    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
    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.