The Hurricanes, who ranked 11th in the league with 3.19 goals per game in 2019-20, are looking to add a goal-scorer, Friedman adds.
Gardiner, 30, has three years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $4.05 million. He inked a four-year pact with Carolina last offseason.
The Hurricanes currently have six blue-liners, including Gardiner, under contract next season and will likely come to terms with restricted free-agent defenseman Haydn Fleury.
Gardiner recorded four goals and 24 points while averaging a career-low 16:40 of ice time through 68 games with the Hurricanes in 2019-20.
Carolina has roughly $5 million in projected cap space for next season, according to CapFriendly.