Jake Gardiner coveted by Avalanche?

Trying to pinpoint Jake Gardiner’s value has been a tough task since he joined the Leafs four years ago, and how he’s viewed as a trade chip both internally and externally is especially hard to speculate on. Because he’s been seen as a bit of a wildcard among fans and media, he’s also prone to being dropped into trade rumors often. 

The Avalanche are a team apparently looking to make some changes this offseason, and shoring up their blue line is, or at least should be, a priority. And now Gardiner’s name is surfacing again.

From Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, who looked at some options the Avalanche could pursue this summer:

“As for a trade, the Avs like the Maple Leafs’ Jake Gardiner, and the former Wisconsin Badger needs to get out of Toronto…He’s under contract with Toronto through 2018-19 at $4.05 million annually. The Avs covet the 24-year-old former first-round Anaheim draft pick, who could use some new scenery.”

Colorado has a few ways to address their back end. They’re deep at center (where the Leafs are incredibly weak) and have a decision to make on Ryan O’Reilly soon if they don’t want to go into next season without him locked down beyond next summer. They also own the tenth overall pick in the upcoming draft, and with talks around the Leafs moving down or targeting players projected to go in that 10-15 range, there’s a bit to chew on here. 

It should be noted that this idea Gardiner “needs to get out of Toronto” is a little dated, and basically became false the instant Randy Carlyle was canned in January. For that reason, the Leafs may want to give him a good look under Babcock, and they’ll probably be hesitant to move him.

    • Bertly83

      Here’s the thing though – the Avs are stacked with defensive prospects. Chris Bigras, Duncan Siemens, Mason Geertsen, Stefan Elliott, and Kyle Wood are all really, really strong options moving forward. Unfortunately, they’re all still young and learning the game… which is exactly what Seth Jones would be as well.

      I’m not arguing that we couldn’t use Jones – at this point, he’s the best of the bunch and is likely to remain so – but he wasn’t worth a 1st Overall pick. Besides, the hellscape that is the Avs blueline is no place for an 18-year-old, especially one with 1st Overall expectations. For his sake, he’s better off in Nashville.

      If Sakic/Roy want to fix our blueline this summer – and it sounds as if that’s the plan – they’ll be able to do so for less than Jones would have cost. It won’t be cheap, but it won’t cost them a Top 3 pick either. And even if the right UFA or trade doesn’t come along, well, hey, in 1-2 years, our prospects will be ready to go. We have a solid plan B already in place, so in the long run, MacKinnon was absolutely the right choice.

  • FlareKnight

    It’d be interesting if nothing else. I don’t mind keeping Gardiner for a year and seeing how he does with Babcock, but if he ends up a part of a big trade I’m ok with it.

    The pick would probably be the better move since going to be tough to get an upcoming UFA like O’Reilly to lock up with a rebuilding team.

  • Bertly83

    As long as the deal isn’t for O’Rielly. Nothing against him but he isn’t the number one center the team needs. He is a excellent number 2 guy. Basically, he is Kadri but with a better defensive game. The problem is he is wildly over paid. I guarantee that after two year of 50 point seasons for 7+ cap hit fans would be screaming bloody murder. The leafs are finally getting their cap situation under control ie: not being at the cap despite being a bottom 5 team. To aquire O’Rielly would blow the whole process to hell again. Another top 10 pick would be nice though.

    • CMpuck

      Thank, ROR is so overrated, he’s a great 2/3 but he’ll want at least 7 x 7. He’s just another Bolland (well pre injury Dave Bolland who was a great 2/3 talent).

      Gardiner is a much more intriguing gamble to breakout, want to see at least a season of Gardiner under Babcock. Giving up on Gardiner just for a hiccup in his development is a mistake made too many times in this market. He could be this franchise’s Brain Rafalski if management remains patient.

  • I’m also not 100% on the O’Reilly bandwagon. If that’s the deal straight up, then, hey, ok. Doesn’t seem likely though.

    Gardiner’s not going to land you the tenth overall pick, but he could easily land you Colorado’s second round (40th overall) and another prospect.

    Hell, if one of Bernier/Reimer is on the way out, I’d ask how they feel about parting with Calvin Pickard. Great numbers this year, but does Colorado really think they can keep him with Varlamov signed until 2019 and Berra signed until 2017?

  • Bertly83

    Howdy – Avs fan here. I question this rumor. Nothing against Gardiner (who is a very good player), but I don’t think he’s the kind of defensemen the Avs are likely to be targeting this summer.

    The biggest deficiency we have at the moment is someone defensively reliable enough to play top pairing minutes against stiff competition alongside Erik Johnson, particularly if the rumors Jan Hejda isn’t coming back are true. We need someone closer to Dion Phaneuf (sans massive contract) than the more offensively-minded Gardiner, especially with Tyson Barrie (who finished 5th in pts/60 at evens among defenseman last season) and Zach Redmond on the roster. We even have a spare offensive defenseman in our system by the name of Stefan Elliott who was an AHL All-Star and lead our minor league team in scoring for much of the year. We can’t find room for him in our lineup as it is, so while Gardiner would be a nice add, I just don’t see how he fits unless his defensive game is WAY WAY WAY stronger than I’m giving him credit for. But in that case, why would TOR ever think about giving him up?

    Also, let’s just say that historically, Mike Chambers hasn’t always proven the most reliable when it comes to rumors. The Avs are a very tight organization and don’t feed the Denver Post much. This was likely a personal musing that has been taken as fact, although it’s very difficult to know for sure. I’d just caution everyone to take it with a grain of salt because it doesn’t mesh with what Roy has been saying in interviews for the past year. “We would like our team to get bigger” doesn’t exactly scream “we’re going to trade for Jake Gardiner”.

    Also, on O’Reilly, those of you saying he’s a great 2nd line center are correct. He’s Toews-lite, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever score 28 goals again unless he’s put back on Matt Duchene’s wing. He’s a great piece of a strong core, but if you’re looking to build your franchise around him, you’re going to end up disappointed.

    Still, I have a feeling that if he does hit the trade market, it could be a large package heading the other way. Rumor has it that Buffalo’s GM is rather smitten with him, so there could easily be a bidding war. I don’t know what the final price is going to be, but his next contract is likely to be in the $7 million range. His trade value will probably reflect that as well. Just some food for thought.

      • silentbob

        Yeah, I hear ya. With any luck, Chris Bigras will get close to his ceiling and we’ll be able to lock him in long-term as our #2D. Until then, I bet the Avs are going to go after Sekera, Ehrhoff, Franson, or the sort pretty hard this summer UFA. Whether or not they hit market and/or want to come to Denver is another story, but the Avs will at least have their hat in the ring.

        Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Sakic called about Phaneuf too. His $7 mil hit until he’s 36 is steep, and he probably wouldn’t come cheap in a trade, but if TOR was willing to work with the Avs a bit, he’d be a great fit in Colorado. Better than Gardiner at least.

  • silentbob

    I think the run way on Gardiner’s potential has run our, or is about too and if the Av’s are willing to give up some assets to get him at this point I hope the Leafs jump all over that.

    He is a soon to be 25 year old player with 246 games experience and we’re still waiting for him “break out”….. soon or later you have to cut bait, better to do it now while someone is willing to take his contract. Next year they may not have that.