Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t Trade Jake Gardiner

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be the subject of trade speculation until they upgrade their defense and sign their young players.

That trade speculation should not include Jake Gardiner. The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t going to improve their defense by trading one of their top two defensemen.

I recently wrote a post on why Toronto Maple Leafs Nation needs to appreciate Gardiner. I went into detail explaining that Jake Gardiner is a much better player than generally given credit for. In the same post, I explained why Gardiner shouldn’t face so much criticism for giveaways.  Players who play a lot give the puck away a lot, and the list of ‘most giveaways’ includes nothing but elite players.

If I’m starting to sound annoyed, I’m sorry. I’m just irritated by how much criticism there is about Gardiner. Yes, the Maple Leafs defensive core isn’t outstanding, but it’s not the worst in the world. If you want to feel better about our defense, take a look at the Montreal Canadiens roster.

Anyway, let’s go back to Gardiner. Last season, Gardiner was outstanding for the Maple Leafs. He had his best offensive season. In 82 games played, he registered 5 goals, 47 assists, 15 PP, 22:32 ATOI, 51 hits, 103 blocks, 105 giveaways and a 50.7 corsi-for percentage (CF%).

Compare Gardiner To Tyler Myers

The Gardiner speculation picked up this morning when an article on the Score.ca suggested the Leafs explore a trade of Gardiner for Tyler Meyers.

I have all the respect in the world for The Score and Josh Wegman, but I don’t agree with his opinion on why the Toronto Maple Leafs should trade Gardiner.

If you look at Myers, his stats aren’t going to wow you. In 82 games played, he had 6 goals, 30 assists, 17 PP, 21:26 ATOI, 68 hits, 119 blocks, 77 giveaways and a 50 CF%.

Plus, Myers has been banged up quite a bit. In his 11 seasons in the NHL, he has only played in 70 games plus five times. That’s not good. If you are Kyle Dubas, why would you want to trade someone who rarely gets hurt for someone who does?

I’d rather have someone who is consistently healthy than someone who you’ll need to consistently put on Injured Reserve.

In addition, Myers in a nutshell is a poor man’s Gardiner. He is a bit more physical than Gardiner, but all-in-all puts up worse offensive numbers than Gardiner. In addition, yes, Myers has less giveaways, but he plays less minutes than Gardiner. So you’d have to figure that if Myers had the same amount of ice time as Gardiner last season, he’d have roughly 90 giveaways.

If the debate around Myers vs Gardiner is based on if he’s right handed, please stop. Defenseman who are left handed can play on the right. It’s been done before. It hasn’t been a disaster and a number of elite defenseman currently do that right now.

Bottom line is this: Jake Gardiner is better both offensively and defensively than Tyler Myers. It would make no sense to trade for an inferior player just to balance the right handed vs left handed defensive deployment.

Contracts and Recap

In terms of contracts, both Myers and Gardiner are scheduled to be UFAs next off-season. Myers has a 5.5 million USD cap hit, while Gardiner has roughly a 4 million USD cap hit. This is just a further illustration of why this is such a bad trade for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs need to keep Jake Gardiner.  Unless he can be replaced with a player as good as he is,  moving him just because some people randomly choose to dislike him and treat him as a whipping boy for all their problems with the team doesn’t make any sense.

Very few defenseman score 50 points. Even fewer do it while having a positive defensive impact.

stats from naturalstattrick.com , hockey-reference.com, contract research from capfriendly.com

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