Maple Leafs GM Nonis on negotiations with RFA Gardiner: 'I don't see any hiccups there'

Jul 26, 5:55 PM

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After the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to terms with James Reimer on a new deal Friday, the team's attention now turns to re-signing defenseman Jake Gardiner.

General manager Dave Nonis offered the following encouraging report:

As reported below, Gardiner and the Maple Leafs are believed to be working towards a two-year deal worth between $2.25 million and $3 million per season; according to Capgeek, Toronto has close to $4.4 million in available cap space after the Reimer signing. 

In 80 games in 2013-14, Gardiner scored 10 goals, added 21 assists, and posted a relatively decent minus-3 rating on a team that allowed a 26th ranked 3.07 goals per game.

Jul 30, 11:53 AM

Jake Gardiner on new 5-year contract: 'It’s positive for both myself and the Leafs'

Jul 30, 11:53 AM

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Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner appeared on Sportsnet 590 on Wednesday morning to discuss his freshly-signed five-year, $20.25-million contract.

The 24-year-old began by acknowledging the idea of a long-term deal came later in the negotiating process. "Right away, I was thinking two-year deal and so were they," he said. "We came together and decided a long-term deal was more – was better off for both of us and we got it done. I think it’s positive for both myself and the Leafs."

Despite the team's late-season collapse that saw it fall out of playoff contention, Gardiner posted strong numbers down the stretch - five goals and 9 assists in 21 games. That success was based on a balanced style of play that he wants to continue, with the goal of helping the team avoid the same fate this season:

I mean, I think I played really well - good hockey at the end of the year and I look to do that next year. Look to add a little offense and be a steady defenseman back there too ... This summer I know everyone is working their tails off. I’m hoping we’re not going to disappoint this year. That’s obviously the goal. We’re looking pretty good going into the season.

Finally, Gardiner addressed his relationship with head coach Randy Carlyle, oft-rumored to be somewhat contentious:

I think it’s just more of a – he likes to push young guys, especially when he thinks they can reach their full potential, and I think that’s just what he’s doing with me. It’s not a bad relationship whatsoever. I think, like I said, he pushes me and he plays me a lot, so that’s a positive. Plays me a lot of minutes, which is all you can ask for as a defenseman. So it’s pretty good.

If Gardiner can reach his full potential over the course of his new deal, his production on the ice will likely make his average annual valuation of $4.05 million look like a steal.

Click here to read 'Analytics suggest Jake Gardiner is exceptional, and that he should be unleashed' via theScore's Thomas Drance.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/John E. Sokolowski

Jul 29, 8:53 PM

Maple Leafs GM Nonis on Gardiner extension: 'We're just scratching the surface with him'

Jul 29, 8:53 PM

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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis offered some comments on defenseman Jake Gardiner on Tuesday night, shortly after it was announced that the club had signed the 24-year-old puck-moving defender to a five-year contract extension worth $20.25 million. 

"He took strides last year," said the Maple Leafs executive, per Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun. "We're just scratching the surface with him."

Nonis also commented on the reputedly fractious relationship between Gardiner and Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, suggesting that it's much ado about nothing:

Jul 29, 5:48 PM

Maple Leafs sign Jake Gardiner to 5-year, $20.25-million contract extension

Jul 29, 5:48 PM

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have eschewed the bridge contract in locking up puck-moving defenseman Jake Gardiner with a long-term contract. From Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:

The Maple Leafs have since confirmed the extension

The 24-year-old Gardiner managed 10 goals and 31 points last season, while leading the club in even-strength ice-time per game and shot-attempt differential. 

Gardiner's new contract purchases two of the defenseman's unrestricted free agent seasons, which could prove a mammoth bargain depending on Gardiner's development and how high the upper limit of the NHL salary cap is set at for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. It's a very interesting gamble, especially considering Gardiner's ability to produce offense from the back-end and help drive play at even-strength. 

Jun 24, 2:59 PM

Report: Maple Leafs, Jake Gardiner negotiating 2-year deal

Jun 24, 2:59 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly negotiating a bridge contract with restricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner. 

The two sides have reportedly discussed a two-year agreement that will cost the organization somewhere between $2.25 million and $3 million per season, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston

A two- to three-year bridge deal, similar to the one Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban signed in 2013, will afford the Maple Leafs an opportunity to further evaluate the 23-year-old's development as an all-situations defenseman.

That said, general manager Dave Nonis did admit that the organization has considered deploying the young defenseman up front

Either way, should the Maple Leafs retain Gardiner for the short term, they will discover what they have in the Wisconsin product. 

Heck, it worked in Montreal. 

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/John E. Sokolowski