We’re just days away from the opening of most NHL training camps and one of the biggest unrestricted free agents of the 2019 offseason remains unsigned. I’m talking of course about former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner.
Despite putting up 30 points in just 62 games with the Leafs this past season and a 52 point campaign just a year ago, the 29 year old Gardiner remains unsigned for 2019-20 and beyond. What gives?
It’s been reported a few times that Gardiner has a “handshake agreement” with an unnamed NHL team, but is waiting until that team can clean up its salary cap situation before they can commit to Gardiner. But… those reports are weeks old at this rate. It was also speculated that the team in question was/is the Minnesota Wild, who obviously have seen a change at the GM position since Gardiner hit the open market.
Now, a recent report from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period seems to indicate that the Gardiner situation could be resolved shortly. According to Pagnotta, Gardiner is “working on options” and has reportedly received offers from four NHL teams. It’s believed that the Montreal Canadiens are one of those teams.
Check it out:
Interesting. The Habs could certainly use Gardiner’s offensive prowess from the blue line, as they relied heavily on captain Shea Weber and Jeff Petry last season. Adding Gardiner to their defence corps will give them considerable depth.
As for the other interest teams… well we can only speculate. Is it safe to assume that the Wild, from Gardiner’s home state, are still in the mix? How about a contender like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Nashville Predators? Both teams could use another skating, puck moving player on the back end. The Edmonton Oilers would obviously love to have a player with Gardiner’s skills, but the team’s salary cap situation makes it seem very unlikely.
So… where does Gardiner end up? Time will tell.