I think it’s safe to say that Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Dave Nonis has had a pretty mediocre summer. No, he didn’t break the bank on any underwhelming free agents, like he did in 2013. But he also didn’t demonstrably improve the Leafs in any significant way – if anything they are shallower than they were last season. And this is particularly alarming given that the Leafs were among the worst defensive teams of the shot-tracking era.
But I will give him one thing: he made a smart move during the summer of 2014 – he signed Jake Gardiner to a 5-year deal, with an average hit of $4.05 million.
Toronto Maple Leafs get: Jake Gardiner, 24, D:
- 17G, 48A for 65P, -6 in 167 games; 3551 minutes played;
- 82-game average of 8G, 24A for 32P, -3; 21:15 ATOI
- Playoffs: 1G, 4A for 5P, -3 in 6 games; 23:01 ATOI.
Jake Gardiner hasn’t played much compared to the other regular NHLers from his draft class, but he is still young (for a defenseman, not a forward). He was the Leafs’ best D prospect prior to the arrival of Morgan Rielly, and he’s been the best young Leafs’ D pretty much since he was allowed to play. (Since Randy Carlyle’s arrival, Gardiner hasn’t always been allowed to play for some reason, which makes no sense to me given the crappiness of this team.)
This deal strikes me as rather brilliant:
- If Jake Gardiner continues to improve, he will be very, very affordable by the end of this contract. And one of those so-called “bridge deals” would have just made him more expensive in a year or two.
- But if Gardiner plateaus at this point, he’s still better than a number of other players in the NHL at this salary. (Also, at least initially, they can sell his “potential” given his age.)
Finally something Nonis is doing something I approve of.
(I apologize for not keeping up with the other moves. I have been very busy lately.)