According to a report from Chris Johnston, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in talks with Jake Gardiner regarding a two-year contract extension.
This is certainly a turn of events from the talks that the Leafs are actively shopping the 23 year old defenceman. Though, who knows how much of that was merely a public means of testing the market? If there’s no fit, there are much worse things you can do than keep one of your best players.
Through 80 games this year, Gardiner put up 10 goals and 31 points. He was also Toronto’s best possession player over the course of the season, putting up a 46.4 CF%, highest on the team and a +5.7 relative to his teammates. Gardiner also boasted a positive penalty differential, and put up all of these numbers without being significantly above average in offensive zone starts.
These are all reasons to be optimistic for his continued growth. Ideally, you’d like to sign a guy like this long-term, but with Toronto’s current cap situation and speculation that they’re looking at bringing in some bigger names, its no shock that they’re opting for the bridge. Johnston speculates that the landing price will be somewhere between $2.25 and $3 million per season.