Toronto has capped off a flurry of recent deals with a big one.
On Tuesday, the Leafs signed RFA defenseman Jake Gardiner to a five-year, $20.25 million deal, according to Sportsnet. The deal comes after an impressive campaign in which Gardiner posted career highs in goals (10) and points (31), all while averaging over 21 minutes per night in his third season as a Maple Leaf.
The deal also represents a big financial reward for the 24-year-old.
Gardiner gets a significant pay bump and will earn $4.05M annually with his new contract, making him Toronto’s second highest-paid blueliner — behind captain Dion Phaneuf, who makes $7M per year — and one of just two Maple Leaf rearguards to be signed past 2018 (Phaneuf’s the other).
It’s also a pretty dramatic turn of events considering that, roughly 16 months ago, the #FreeJakeGardiner hashtag/meme was a thing. Remember? Gardiner was stuck with the AHL Marlies — he’d end up playing just 12 regular season games for the Leafs that year — when his agent decided to take his beef to Twitter, leading to Randy Carlyle offering the Randy Carlyl-est of responses:
“When we feel it’s time for Jake Gardiner to come back we’re going to make that decision, and we’re not going to be influenced by anybody other than the people that are doing the assessing.”
Gardiner proved his doubters wrong that postseason, though, scoring five points in six playoff games in Toronto’s opening-round loss to Boston. He’s been a regular fixture in the lineup ever since, and now looks to be one of the cornerstones for the future.
Though there is this wrinkle to consider…
As mentioned above, the deal caps off what’s been a busy period in Toronto. The Leafs have come to terms with a pair of their own free agents — Cody Franson and James Reimer — and inked veteran forwards David Booth and Daniel Winnik to one-year pacts.
Brendan Perlini is off to an impressive start this season with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the American Hockey League. The scoring has been there. The production has been there.
Averaging a point per game with 11 goals through 16 contests in the minors, Perlini is on his way to the NHL. The Arizona Coyotes officially recalled the 20-year-old forward — selected 12th overall in the 2014 draft — from Tuscon on Sunday.
The rebuilding, youthful Coyotes are last in the Pacific Division right now, stuck with eight wins through 23 games.
They gave up 60 shots to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but managed to earn a single point thanks to the play of their goalie Mike Smith.
The Coyotes are on the road Monday and Tuesday this week. They’ll open this quick trip against Columbus, although it hasn’t been determined when Perlini will get into the lineup.
But with a back-to-back situation on the road, it seems likely he’ll make his NHL debut at some point in the next two days.
“Brendan possesses elite speed and goal scoring ability,” said general manager John Chayka. “He has led the AHL in scoring early on and we believe he has earned the opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.”
Not much in the way of pleasantries between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
It started with Jordin Tootoo and Chris Thorburn dropping the gloves just 2:22 into this Central Division contest, with the Jets forward earning the takedown at the end of the scrap.
Bit of a size mismatch. Tootoo is listed at five-foot-nine-inches and 195 pounds, while Thorburn is six-foot-three-inches tall and 235 pounds.
Both teams are missing key players in this one.
Jonathan Toews is once again out of the Chicago lineup — and, it was revealed before Sunday’s game, that he won’t skate for the next few days — while Mark Scheifele misses this game for the Jets.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read is done for the night with an upper-body injury, the team announced.
Read, who only played three shifts today, was hit into the net by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the first period. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced the veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury.
There was no call on the play.
In 26 games this season, Read has six goals and 10 points.
Alexander Radulov has been a pretty good acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, and he continued to prove that Sunday against the L.A. Kings.
Radulov scored in the shootout against the Kings, helping the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory. He also scored in the second period and had two assists for a three-point night. Not bad.
But his shootout goal was sweet. Just made it look easy, as he went to the backhand, top shelf on Peter Budaj.
With reported tension between coach Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain scored twice and had an assist. Another three-point night.
So, the Habs got offensive contributions from their best players.
That said, one of their best players, Alex Galchenyuk left the game late in the third period after a collision with Anze Kopitar away from the puck.
Galchenyuk didn’t return for the overtime. In 25 games, he has nine goals and 23 points, emerging as the No. 1 center in Montreal when the season began.