Ever since the pre-season began, there has been plenty of speculation that Jake Gardiner might be on the trading block. It’s either that he’s being shopped by the Leafs or that Dave Nonis is listening to offers. Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon.
If the Leafs truly are listening to trade offers for Gardiner, James Mirtle has apparently heard that the Leafs are asking for a lot in return.
Heard that the Leafs asking price for Jake Gardiner was "a ****load." So Nonis won't be selling low, I guess.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 15, 2013
If Nonis wants that much in return for Gardiner, one thing has to happen. Gardiner needs to start playing like he did in the last few weeks of the season and playoffs last year. If he does, asking for a “crap”-load wouldn’t be out of the question.
Much like I wrote in my Nazem Kadri article yesterday, the Leafs would need to make sure they don’t get fleeced in a deal that would send Gardiner away. Although, the Leafs would be getting their just desserts if that were to happen, keeping mind that the Leafs got Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul in return for Francois Beauchemin.
Now to what a “crap”-load would represent in return for Gardiner probably means young players. Keep in mind the Leafs cap situation, which means the Leafs probably couldn’t take much salary back in return, probably only as much as Gardiners $875,000 cap hit.
That means prospects or picks or both, a very similar return to what I suggested Nazem Kadri could net the Leafs. Sending away a bluechip offensive defenseman would probably even net the Leafs a high-end prospect and a first-round pick if Gardiner picks his game up.
Another way to look at it is that trading Jake Gardiner could be a way to get rid of John-Michael’s contract. Seeing as that only $900,000 of Liles’ $3,875,000 cap hit is being buried in the minors, sending him along with Gardiner could be a way to get rid of the remaining cap hit.
Just as Lupul was a salary dump for the Anaheim Ducks and Matthew Lombardi was a dump for the Nashville Predators, Liles could be that for the Leafs. It would mean a smaller return for the Leafs, but clearing up nearly $4 million in cap space could be worth it the long run. Also, with a player like Gardiner, the return could still be a high-end prospect.
The last time we heard a lot of trade speculation about a young defenseman in Toronto, it was about Luke Schenn. As we all know, he eventually traded for James van Riemsdyk. If history repeats itself, we’ll be saying goodbye to Jake Gardiner.