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Would the Leafs trade Jake Gardiner?

Dec 20, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT

Jake Gardiner Getty Images

A great skater who put up 30 points in his rookie season, 23-year-old defenseman Jake Gardiner is a tantalizing talent. And according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to trade him.

“I think there’s a better chance of him getting traded, just because of the continued interest,” Dreger said this morning on TSN 1050 radio (audio). “At some point, I think that Toronto’s needs are going to equal what teams are going to be willing to pay.

“Since the start of the season until now, the asking price has been very high, and we know what it is – it’s a top-six forward.

“But I think [general manager] Dave Nonis would also consider a flip of defense. It’s going to have to be a quality defenseman, because if he’s considering trading Jake Gardiner, then he needs something very, very good in return.”

One team that Dreger knows has interest is the New York Rangers. (Though apparently general manager Glen Sather may covet Cody Franson more, if only because Franson shoots right and Gardiner shoots left.)

Assuming Toronto re-signs captain Dion Phaneuf (not guaranteed, but reportedly headed that way), it’s possible that Nonis could deem Gardiner expendable, particularly with 19-year-old Morgan Rielly showing a lot of promise in his rookie season.

But Gardiner has a lot of fans, particularly among the proponents of the so-called “advanced stats,” who point to his strong possession numbers, at least compared to the rest of his teammates.

Per CapGeek, here’s what the Leafs’ blue-line looks like right now:

source:

Related: Gardiner could provide differing opinions in Leafs organization

  1. lowenni - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Nonis is loathe to trade him, but there’s clearly something that Carlyle doesn’t like with him. He’s probably one of the top-10 skating defenseman in the league, it’s amazing to watch how fluid he is and his pivoting ability. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a terribly smart defenseman, but his skill alone is probably too tantalizing to let go of. Nonis needs to talk to Carlyle and get Gardiner’s game going and get him playing time. It doesn’t make sense to play defenseman like Liles or Fraser instead of him.

  2. imleftcoast - Dec 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Not that Nonuts will trade with Vancouver, but Kadri would be a nice fit.

  3. withseidelinn - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Let Ranger and Fraser walk. Re-sign the kid for 3-4 years and then allocate whatever you have left in cap to try and beef up your shutdown D. That’s their biggest need.

    • borderline1988 - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Gardiner is a tremendous skater…but Rielly has made him expendable. Rielly is a pretty smooth skater himself, but he makes much better decisions with the puck than Gardiner (and he’s 4 years younger!). To me, Rielly is a better bet to become a top-2 defenseman in the NHL for years to come.

      I wouldn’t trade him straight up for any top-6 forward; the Leafs have a number of good top-line scorers. The problem is that they have very few complete players and no good centres to speak of.

      If you could trade Gardiner and Reimer for a legitimate top-line centre, that would be a trade to go for.

  4. 808pensfan - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    #freejakegardiner

  5. 950003cups - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    You let that kid go, and you better get something big in return. Jake Gardiner is a talented skater. The only part I do understand of wanting to trade a talented defenseman is if the defensive system the coach wants to implement doesn’t click well with the skill package as a whole of the player. In NJ DeBoer had problems with Adam Larsson getting in the lineup. He’s a great skater, maybe better than Gardiner. Also the kid has good vision and a laser outlet pass or a pass for tip-ins. But he’s not a body banger, or strong with the puck. Those guys find themselves as secondaries on many teams.

    So, yeah, its a tough decision sometimes a GM has to make. Especially when you gave up a first round pick for the guy.

    But if a team is in need for a puck moving dman with a good shot, you can usually get a lot in return. Maybe even a first round pick and a decent prospect.

    • withseidelinn - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      I think that’s a little too much in my opinion, but teams do get desperate on deadline day. Just look at what Buffalo got for Paul Gaustad.

  6. metalization1 - Dec 20, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I can see a trade with the Flames happening very soon.

  7. phillyphanatic77 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    BSchenn for Gardiner? Not saying I’d make this deal, that I wanna get rid of Schenn, or that Toronto would accept it, but it would fill needs for both sides. Toronto is desperate for centers and the Flyers are always looking for puck-moving defensemen. Plus both players have yet to live up to their respective potentials. And Toronto and Philly have made deals in the past.

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