Photo: Hockey Troll
The Carolina Hurricanes announced on Friday that they have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract, which will carry a cap hit of $4.05 million. Gardiner was the one of the best unrestricted free agent on the market prior to putting pen to paper with the Hurricanes.
The #Canes have signed Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract
— Carolina Hurricanes (@CanesNHL) September 6, 2019
“Jake is a solid veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play,” said GM Don Waddell in a statement. “He’s had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we’re thrilled to have him here.”
The 29-year old spent the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He posted 45 goals, 245 points, and a +9 rating in 551 games with the Maple Leafs but has been criticized for his defensive play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he was a -3 and a -5, respectively, in each of the team’s Game 7 losses to the Boston Bruins in the past two seasons.
It was rumored that Gardiner wanted to return to Toronto but they are currently trying to reach a contract agreement with RFA forward Mitch Marner, who is commanding a cap hit of at least $10 million on his next deal and led the team with 94 points last season. The Maple Leafs are currently almost $2,000,000 over the NHL salary cap.
Gardiner posted three goals, 30 points, and a +19 rating in 62 games last season after setting career-highs in assists (47) and points (52) in 2017-18.
Gardiner joins a stacked blue line with the likes of Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, and Trevor Van Reimsdyk. The Hurricanes’ 221 goals-against last season was tied with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning for the seventh-fewest in the NHL. The team also acquired defenseman Gustav Forsling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade earlier this offseason.
Adding Gardiner gives the Hurricanes some security as Faulk and Van Reimsdyk can both become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2020.
The Hurricanes will need to shed some cap before they open the season on October 3 as they are currently $1,554,791 over the salary cap.
Gardiner was relied upon to play big minutes for the Maple Leafs but they have acquired defensemen Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie, and Cody Ceci in separate trades throughout the past nine months to bolster their blueline.
From The Canes
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed defenseman Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract. The deal pays Gardiner an average annual value (AAV) of $4.05 million.
“Jake is a solid veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play,” said Waddell. “He’s had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we’re thrilled to have him here.”
Gardiner, 29, totaled 30 points (3g, 27a) and ranked third among Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen in plus/minus (+19) in 62 regular-season games in 2018-19. The Minnetonka, Minn., native played his 500th NHL game on Oct. 27, 2018, against Winnipeg and registered his 200th NHL assist on Feb. 25, 2019, against the Islanders. Gardiner returned to action on April 4 after missing 18 games with a back injury, and played in all seven games of the Maple Leafs’ opening-round loss to the Boston Bruins, earning two assists.
Anaheim’s first-round selection, 17th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Gardiner has totaled 45 goals and 200 assists (245 points) and 185 penalty minutes in 551 career NHL regular-season games, all with Toronto. The 6’2″, 203-pound defenseman was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2011-12, after leading rookie blueliners with 30 points (7g, 23a). Gardiner established career highs with 47 assists and 52 points during the 2017-18 season, ranking eighth among league defenseman in assists and tied for 15th in points.
Prior to turning professional, Gardiner spent three seasons at the University of Wisconsin, totaling 19 goals and 56 assists (75 points) in 121 collegiate games. He has represented the United States in international play three times, winning gold at the 2010 World Junior Championship and bronze at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.
By Harrison Brown