NHL Rumors: Jake Gardiner Will Play For Hurricanes Next Season

As a Carolina Hurricanes fan, whether you like him or not, Jake Gardiner is expected to be at camp and the team will not buy out his contract. Chip Alexander reported that general manager Don Waddell released the information after news Max Pacioretty will start the season on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Gardiner has one year left on his contract, so it could work out in the Hurricanes favor considering they just have to get through one more season overpaying the defenseman rather than spread the money out over multiple years. By the time Pacioretty is expected back in the lineup, Carolina will have had the time to decide what they are going to do with Gardiner. Trading him at the deadline to create space is always an option, but they may have cap trouble if nothing is done.
Gardiner missed the entire 2021-22 season and his return to the lineup means someone is getting bumped down. The top-four of Jaccob Slavin, Brent Burns, Brett Pesce, and Brady Skjei are all safe and will remain in the top-four, but the Hurricanes then have three right defenseman in Ethan Bear, Jalen Chatfield, and Dylan Coghlan all vying for a spot on the bottom pair. Originally, one of them would have had to shift over and play on the left side, but with Gardiner in the mix, there may be only one spot left.
In my opinion, Chatfield is the odd man out and will start the season in the AHL. As for Bear and Coghlan, they played almost the exact same number of games last season. The situation shouldn't change and each will get their fair share of games in before one emerges. We will soon find out if Gardiner is up to speed and will get a full season with the Hurricanes.

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