Every one in Toronto can remember Game 7 in the first round of the postseason, when the Maple Leafs collapsed in the third period, which led the Boston Bruins to win 7-4 and move on to the second round of the playoffs.
Everyone remembers; especially defenseman Jake Gardiner, who admitted after the game that he’d made too many mistakes and calls the performance “up there with the worst” moments of his life.
“Personally, I got to be better. A lot of this game is on me,” said Gardiner with watery eyes. “It’s just not good enough, especially in a game like this. It’s the most important game of the season, and I didn’t show up, so… there’s not much you can say really.”
Fans have been brutal with the blue liner since, who on the other hand, is ready to move on from the meltdown and tackle next season. However, will he be in the same uniform?
According to Sportsnet's Rory Boylen, Gardiner could be place on the trade block, which we know will make some diehard fans happy. However, as Boylen points out, "Toronto is looking for one or two defencemen already, trading Gardiner would just add another depth need."
He could however be a great piece to move to free up some cap space to ensure that the Leafs and new GM Kyle Dubas can resign star players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner next summer.
"But Gardiner’s potential availability goes beyond that. He makes $4.05 million against the cap for one more season before becoming UFA eligible, which lines up with new (yet unsigned) contracts kicking in for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Both of those are expected to be heavy hits and William Nylander also needs to sign an extension this summer. Will Gardiner’s salary fit into the structure of Toronto’s next phase? There is no shortage of teams looking for a puck-moving defenceman," writes Boylen.
At the end of April, Gardiner revealed to the Toronto Star that he has stayed away from all media since the Game 7 disaster, and the way we see it now, he might not want to go back right now.
The trade chatter is about to hit him hard and some teams are definitely going to come calling to land the defenseman...
He might want to shut his phone off completely.