Leafs Weighing Options on Gardiner

With big contracts looming on the horizon for Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and William Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs chose to be proactive and asked for a meeting with Jake Gardiner and his agent, Pat Brisson.  In addition to those contract extensions, signing another of Brisson's clients, John Taveras to a 7 year $77 million deal has made for little breathing room under the salary cap.

The Athletic's James Mirtle was on TSN Radio Toronto 1050 on Tuesday and mentioned that the current Leaf regime of Kyle Dubas, Brandon Pridham, and Laurence Gilman aren't about to lose players through free agency.  The Leafs allowed James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Leo Komarov to walk this off season and because of there being no return whatsoever to the franchise, this prompted an invitation to the Gardiner team to discuss a possible extension.  Mirtle didn't share a proposed term or dollar amount, but did say the meeting was to determine "whether they want to meet that price or not."

Gardiner is going into the last year of a contract that carries a $4,050,000 cap hit and would become an unrestricted free agent.  Gardiner is coming off a career high in scoring with 52 points (5 goals and 47 assists) and logged 22:32 of average ice time.  Theoretically, players do well in contract years so the sky could be the limit for Gardiner statistically.

With little information being shared about this meeting, we are still at a loss as far as knowing if Gardiner is looking for a lucrative long term deal or willing to take less to play on a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.  If he is looking for big money, the Toronto brass will need to decide what the lesser of two evils are; trading Gardiner or make the cap cutting moves necessary to make room for the defenseman.

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