While Jake Gardiner is willing to wait and see what happens with Mitch Marner, the chances the Toronto Maple Leafs will be able to afford him are still unlikely.
NHL teams are less than a month away from opening training camp and Jake Gardiner still doesn’t have a contract and apparently he is still holding out hope that the Toronto Maple Leafs can work some magic and make room for him.
Kyle Dubas admitted that he wasn’t closing the door on bringing the defenceman back but admitted the team was limited in what they could do. At this point of the off-season, it is tough to see any team offering a big number to Gardiner but that doesn’t mean he’s going to sign for nothing.
Gardiner’s last game with the Leafs didn’t exactly have a happy ending and we know the back injury he was trying to play through but you would think that with time to properly rehab the injury, it won’t be a big issue. So why shouldn’t the Leafs bring back Gardiner if he is willing to come back?
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Sure, the Leafs depth on the blueline could use Gardiner especially when you think about what could happen (knock on wood) and injury would occur. It’s not something you hope for but what you have to anticipate and Dubas obviously made that a priority this off-season but you know he had limitations.
The team doesn’t have the cap space to make big additions on the blue line which is why the Colorado Avalanche had to take back salary in the trade for Tyson Barrie. Even if the Leafs wanted to bring Gardiner back, they would have to move a roster player to make him fit.
This is why Dubas did not make any promises to bring Gardiner back because he knew it wasn’t something he could fulfill with certainty. Maybe the Leafs can find a way to get Marner signed to give them enough room but that appears to be more of a pipe dream at this point.
Gardiner will find a place to play next season and no matter how patient he is willing to be, patience isn’t the solution to having him return.
Do you think the Leafs should figure out a way to get Gardiner signed or should they close the chapter on his time in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below.