Let’s face it. Jake Gardiner isn’t perfect, but neither is your Mom, and I love her. I also love Jake Gardiner. For all those times he misplays an odd man rush, or picks up the wrong man in his own end, he’s probably helped the Leafs get out of their own zone a dozen times or pulled off an amazing two zone tape to tape pass, or just shared his award winning smile with us. Jake Gardiner is great. Just like your Mom.
Now if you disagree with me, that’s fair, it’s just sports, but I assure you your Mom is great and we’ll be very happy together. Just like I’m very happy with Jake Gardiner. I could show you a bunch a numbers and charts that say you are wrong about Jake Gardiner, but if you don’t like Jake Gardiner the odds of you looking at graph are about as good as the odds of you ever calling me Dad.
So let’s make a deal. I don’t expect a Fathers Day card from you, and you’ll understand that a smooth skating, heads up defenseman with a solid point shot is pretty good to have around, especially on a team that doesn’t have a lot going for it on the blueline.
The thing about Jake Gardiner though is that you may get your way and Jake Gardiner may be gone soon. You may be shocked to learn that the return for him will likely be more than a bag of pucks or a cup of coffee, but his return should be a bona fide asset that can really help the Leafs. It may also shock you to learn that I don’t think that’s the end of the world either.
Gardiner’s contract coming up after next season means he’s probably due for a pretty substantial raise. A raise that could bring my thinking closer to yours on Jake Gardiner (but not your Mom though, she’s still aces.) That raise will likely prevent the Leafs from improving in another areas like the much more pressing right side of the blueline. So that’s where we can all agree that it’s worth listening to offers on what Jake Gardiner can bring in as a return.
The much more realistic outcome is that Gardiner isn’t going anywhere before next season and that’s pretty okay too. It’s probably not fair to throw Travis Dermott into the deep end. It certainly didn’t work out well when they did it with Nikita Zaitsev (though if we’re being honest he was never that good to begin with). Any deal involving Gardiner would have to benefit the Leafs both in the short and long term and that’s not an easy thing to do. You know what does benefit the Leafs in the short and long term? Jake Gardiner. At least Jake Gardiner on a reasonable contract. Jake Gardiner on a reasonable contract is as fine as your Mom.