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Jake Gardiner signs 5-year deal with Maple Leafs, remains trade bait

Gardiner dekes Howard and finishes

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Gardiner dekes Howard and finishes

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Jake Gardiner gets mentioned more frequently in trade scenarios than conditional draft picks, and that might not end despite his new 5-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The restricted free-agent defenseman signed a 5-year, $20.25-million deal that’ll give the Leafs $4.05 million against the cap.

So it’s a very cap-friendly deal for a puck-moving 24-year-old defenseman, which brings us to the most salient point: There’s no trade or move protection in the contract, according to Chris Johnston, which obviously keeps the door open for a potential move down the line if the opportunity presents itself. 

Or, perhaps, the Leafs have themselves a great price on a burgeoning stud on the blue line, that has two full NHL seasons and one split with the Marlies under his belt. Defenseman take a few years to develop and, as Mirtle notes, the Leafs saw a ton of fulfilled promise in the last 20 games of last season.

So another good move for the Leafs. We’ve been writing that a lot lately. It leaves us frightened and confused. 

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