With the NHL season coming next month, Jake Gardiner still remains a free agent, so could the Nashville Predators be the team to give him a spot on their roster?
We just saw Pat Maroon take a 1-year, $900K deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so judging by that deal, Gardiner wouldn’t cost the Nashville Predators an insane amount of money.
With the Predators bottom pairing looking weak, the team could use a player like Gardiner, who had been a lynchpin in the Toronto Maple Leafs defensive core for nearly a decade and is now heading to his age 29 season without a contract.
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Gardiner could offer the Preds some much-needed depth, taking the pressure off of an already stacked top six, adding yet another problem that the opposition has to deal with playing against on defense.
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In his 8-year career, Gardiner played 551 games, scoring 45 goals and 200 assists for 245 points, which aren’t bad numbers whatsoever, also adding a +9 plus/minus while playing for some horrible Maple Leafs teams in the early-mid 2010s.
He had also been very respectable in the defensive zone, despite many angry Toronto Maple Leafs fans saying otherwise, as he had been the scapegoat of the fanbase as of late, being booed several times throughout his career.
Given everything he had to deal with in Toronto, Gardiner has been a fairly solid defenseman who would definitely help out almost any team in the league, and if given a fresh start, he could even improve.
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Nashville Hockey Mug
Feeling the heat from the Toronto Maple Leafs fanbase last season, Gardiner put up three goals and 27 assists for 30 points in 62 games, adding a plus/minus of +19. Given those numbers, he was a lot better than he was given credit for and absolutely could make an impact on the Nashville Predators roster.
He could fill in one of the Predators third pairing spots, which would be occupied by Matt Irwin and Dan Hamhuis, who are both underwhelming options whose best years are behind them.
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Gardiner could offer the Preds so much more in that position, as he could not only play better defensively than each of those two options but also potentially challenge for a spot on the team’s second power play unit, which is definitely important for a team that hasn’t been lucky enough to avoid injury for the past few years.
He will likely take less than a million dollars on a 1-year deal, so why not take a flyer on him? He has quietly been one of the most stable defensemen in the league for the past few years, so on a cheap deal, he could be an important piece for the Predators.
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Depth is one of the most important factors in championship teams, so adding another talented defenseman into the fold won’t hurt the Nashville Predators one bit. After all, Jake Gardiner might play even better when his home fans aren’t booing him every night.