Leafs to trade Gardiner following the targeted boos by the home crowd?!

This could be the right time for the Leafs as difficult free-agent decisions are coming…

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It seems like the Toronto Maple Leafs fanbase has been hard on defenseman Jake Gardiner. They love him one minute, hate him the next minute… that’s been the story of Gardiner over the course of his eight seasons with the team.

During the second period of Monday night’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche, Gardiner looked awful in a puck battle with Avs forward Carl Soderberg, allowing Soderberg to walk right around Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen before easily tucking it home. Gardiner didn’t look so great on this play.

Immediately after, Gardiner was booed every time he touched the puck. By his own fanbase… After the game, the blue liner was clearly emotional when talking about being booed and even seemed to choke back some tears when told about his teammates coming to his defense. 

You have to wonder: does that mean that the Leafs will be looking to trade Gardiner ahead of the trade deadline? It does not look like it according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. 

“The Maple Leafs are looking to add on the blue line, they’re not looking to subtract. Even though there were a number of Maple Leafs fans that would have happily driven Jake Gardiner to the airport to get rid of him on Monday night after the  loss and his poor performance, the reality is that the Leafs intend on using Gardiner as an own rental. They’re going to consider re-signing him, but the ask is likely going to be too rich as a pending unrestricted free agent. 
And if he’s a 50-point defenseman, he’s going to command upwards of $6 million or beyond that. Again, it’s about adding to the blue line in Toronto, not subtracting regardless of the slump that Gardiner appears to be in right now.”

Gardiner has played more games for the Leafs than anyone else on this team — 534 in total — so it would be quite the move if the Leafs decided to trade him. However, for now, Dreger maintains that the Maple Leafs are focused on adding to their blue line and not subtract any player - even one like Gardiner who has been struggling lately…