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…
Jake Gardiner’s #leafs extension doesn’t include any no-movement protection, Sportsnet has learned. Great deal for both sides.
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.
Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss
This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.
Per @EliasSports: @LAKings had 9 different skaters score in a game for 5th time in franchise history. Last: Jan. 21, 1987 vs. PIT (10-5 W).
Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.
Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”
Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.