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.
“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.