Jake Gardiner‘s potential as a National Hockey League player is relatively undisputed. As a top four defenseman, he continues to prove to Leafs nation that his value is ever growing.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Jake Gardiner
The 27-year-old started as a defenseman for the University of Wisconsin. He was a solid piece of their blue line for three seasons, tallying 75 points in 121 WCHA games.
Jake Gardiner was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, 17th overall in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He was eventually traded by Anaheim along with Joffrey Lupul and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Anaheim received Francois Beauchemin in the exchange.
Gardiner began his tenure with the Maple Leafs as with the Toronto Marlies in 2010-11. His big break came the following season, playing 75 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and recording 30 points.
Despite a solid start, he spent some extra time with the Marlies after getting his first taste of the NHL. However, it was during the Leafs 2013-2014 campaign that Jake Gardiner became a full-time NHL player.
Analytically Speaking (via HockeyReference)
Jake Gardiner has maintained reasonable stats throughout the course of his NHL career. He has posted 163 points over 407 games, all of which have been with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gardiner has recorded 388 blocked shots at even strength, averaging 78 blocks every 82 game season. His giveaway/takeaway ratio is to be expected, sitting at 174/325.
In the grand scheme of things, Jake Gardiner is considered by some to be an underrated piece of Toronto’s defensive core. With Morgan Rielly at the reigns, Gardiner has been steady in point production, assisting on 34 of the Leafs goals last season. Since 2012, his numbers have been climbing at a respectable pace. There’s no doubt that Gardiner’s ability as a top four defensemen will be noticeable next season.
Time to divulge in Jake Gardiner’s impressive advanced stats. Last season, he managed to record a 3.2% relative Corsi playing at even strength. Aside from his solid possession metrics, Gardiner’s role as a Maple Leaf continues to grow as his potential flourishes.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 201 lbs
NHL Entry Draft: First Round, 17th Overall in 2008 by Anaheim
Contract (via CapFriendly)
Gardiner’s contract is very simple. Signed on July 29, 2014, he has two years remaining on a five year, $20.25 million deal. The contract carries a cap hit of $4.05 million.
With no performance or signing bonuses, the Leafs do not have to worry about anything except for Gardiner’s very reasonable cap hit. Next summer, he receives a $400,000 signing bonus, which does not affect the cap either. He does not have a no-trade clause as well.
Jake Gardiner will live up to his expectations as a top four defensemen for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. The question is, what do his expectations entail? For starters, Gardiner must continue to be consistent, a characteristic that has come relatively easy for him. With his point production expected to stabilize, if not increase, Mike Babcock will have him averaging a nice amount of time on ice.
His biggest challenge, as it has been in the past, will be to decrease the number of turnovers he gives up. Babcock has helped Gardiner in this category, making turnovers a mere hiccup in his overall success as a player.
Overall, Jake Gardiner is heading into a 2017-18 campaign with a boat load of potential. Like his fellow teammates, he will only get better as the Leafs continue to grow.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images