Toronto Maple Leafs: Should They Trade Jake Gardiner?

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Cynthia Bin

Jake Gardiner has had flashes of brilliance and, well, more than a few moments that were not so brilliant.

Gardiner harnesses a lot potential, it just comes down to what Mike Babcock and the new coaching staff can do with him. Jake Gardiner has a lot of upside and he’s an excellent skater, his SOG have increased consistently every season he’s been with the Leafs, and he’s also a D-Man who can score.

He has potential to become a great defenseman – the major issue is his consistency and getting him there. The big question here is what causes Gardiner’s “off” games; the type of games where his head seems to leave the game. Sometimes he displays a lack of defensive focus, careless mistakes – game costing mistakes.

There are games where he constantly coughs up pucks in the defensive zone and gives up golden scoring opportunities. There are also times when he is absolutely careless and leaves the opposition wide open and forgets to cover his man.

Yes, these are some major defensive downfalls. but there is still an upside here. If you look at Gardiner’s stats he has shown huge improvement over his last four seasons with the Leafs. When Gardiner is on his game and not being a liability he is actually the most effective defenseman at clearing the puck out of the zone.

If you happen to be a corsi/stats geek you would see that Jake Gardiner is one of the best defensemen the Leafs have. I’m not going to get into corsi because it’s not my thing and I really haven’t wrapped my head around it all yet.

One thing that I have learned, however, is that what you see on the ice and what’s actually on paper sometimes just doesn’t make sense. Just google it, it’s definitely out there. In reality, there are much bigger problems on the Leafs blue line other than Jake Gardiner.

With a little fine tuning by Babcock and the new coaching staff Gardiner could potentially be moulded into an excellent top pairing D-man. Gardiner is still young and can learn – he’s only 24 years old. The new coaching can either make him or break him.

If Gardiner can gain a little more confidence and learn to maintain his defensive focus for all 3 periods of the game it will be an absolute “game changer.”

All in all, if the Leafs were to get an unreal offer that they could not refuse for Jake. No, I would not be devastated to see him go. But realistically I can’t see anybody knocking at the Leafs door begging to acquire Jake Gardiner. I say if the new staff works on developing his defensive game and focus this season he may turn out to be a diamond in the rough.

Next: Torrin Batchelor's Thoughts