The Toronto Maple Leafs surely made headlines this summer when they managed to add coveted free agent John Tavares to their roster. However, when such a significant move is made - you know there will be some heavy consequences. And here, it means the Leafs will have to make a huge sacrifice in the coming weeks...
With potential salary cap issues looming, Jim Parsons of The Hockey Writers believes that the Maple Leafs and the camp of Jake Gardiner have met to discuss the future of the defenseman with the franchise. We all know that the Leafs are facing quite the financial puzzle - not only this summer, but in the next one as well - as young star forwards Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner will have to extend their contract.
It seems like Gardiner will be the ultimate sacrifice and that the team is looking to move him for fear of losing him for nothing.
"Gardiner, who quietly had a career-best 52 points from the Leafs blue line became an afterthought. But, with a weaker defensive corps, the Leafs are looking at their options now instead of later," writes Parsons.
According to James Mirtle of The Athletic, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas needs to make a decision now on Gardiner, who quietly had a career-best 52 points, on whether he wants to offer him an extension or move him on the trade market.
“I think that this new management with [Kyle] Dubas and Brandon Pridham and Laurence Gilman is going to try and not lose good players for nothing in free agency. That would mean deciding right now whether you want to sign Jake Gardiner to a contract extension or moving him and getting something back…”
The Leafs have already lost a lot this summer when Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, and Leo Komarov all walk for free during the free-agency period. They surely do not want to repeat the same thing with Gardiner, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
“I know that Gardiner’s agent Pat Brisson–the same agent as Tavares–has met with Kyle Dubas and talked about Jake Gardiner’s contract," Mirtle added who believes the idea behind meeting now is to determine “whether they want to meet that price or not.”
Fans might be happy to hear that Gardiner is back on the trade block since they wanted him out of Toronto following the Game 7 disaster in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins. Right after the 7-4 loss to the Bruins, Leafs fans started a GoFundMe account to buy out Gardiner's contract following his name 7's debacle. The description of the objective reads: "Worst player on the ice, single handedly costed the leafs the series. Could put the extra cap space towards signing a real defenceman."
So, fans will surely have a lot to say about this "sacrifice".