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Rumor: Gardiner has agreed to contract, but is waiting for team to clear salary before signing

NHL insider reports that Gardiner has a “handshake agreement” to join a new team via free agency.

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Heading into the 2019 offseason, Jake Gardiner was expected to generate a ton of interest on the free agent market. But, aside from a few rumblings that that the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild and his current Toronto Maple Leafs have kicked tires on the veteran blueliner, no one has put pen to paper just yet. This begs the question, “What gives?”

Gardiner is a proven offensive defenseman who has topped 30 points in almost every season of his NHL career and even topped the 50 point plateau just a season ago. In other words, the guy can put points on the board. So again, what gives?

Well according to a report from Wild insider Michael Russo of The Athletic, Gardiner has a “handshake deal in place” with an NHL team but has to wait for them to clear some salary off their books before they can officially announce a contract.

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Interesting. It’s not exactly a secret that the Buffalo Sabres have been looking to move Rasmus Ristolainen and his contract, could they be eyeing Gardiner? 

Could Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin circle back to Gardiner after he manages to rid himself of Karl Alzner’s contract? 

The Penguins have Erik Gudbranson AND Jack Johnson inked to deals that amount to over $7 million in salary. Could GMJR have another trick up his sleeve? 

The New York Rangers need to shed salary and it seems like a foregone conclusion that Kevin Shattenkirk and his $6+ million salary will be shed either by trade or buyout. Then there’s Marc Steal and Brendan Smith’s awful deals as well…