Jake Gardiner Assigned To AHL

January 15th, 2012 1 Comment

Having sat out four straight games, Toronto Maple Leafs rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner has officially been assigned to the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies Sunday afternoon.

Gardiner shocked many when he made the big club straight out of training camp, followed by an impressive stretch of games which saw him register ten assists through 37 games this season, while posting a respectable minus-1 rating.

Known as an offensive defenseman, Gardiner uses his skating and hockey sense to outwit opposing forwards, while also possessing the ability to make a quick first pass.

Originally drafted in the first round (17th overall) by the Anaheim Ducks, Burke was able to bring Gardiner to Toronto late last season as part of the Francoise Beauchemin deal.

Originally expected to make the team by the All-Star break, Gardiner’s solid play led to the big club keeping him in the lineup right out of training camp at the expense of veteran defenseman Cody Franson.

Injuries and some sub-par performances by a number of Toronto D-Men led to Gardiner sticking with the team, but with Toronto’s rearguards finally healthy, Gardiner has been squeezed out of the lineup of late in favor of Mike Komisarek and the aforementioned Franson.

Burke said earlier in the week that if Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson did not find Gardiner some ice time he would be forced to send Gardiner down, so today’s move hardly comes as a big surprise.

Toronto is now left with Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Luke Schenn, John-Michael Liles (who has been out since December 22nd), Cody Franson, Mike Komisarek and Keith Aulie on the backend. Aulie spent the first part of the season with the Marlies. His tough demeaner and defense-first style has impressed his coaches, as witnessed by rise from obscurity to his current 19-plus minutes a night in ice time.

While Gardiner’s move may seem premature, there is a very likely chance that he will be back with the big club at some point—especially if Burke works out a trade for Luke Schenn or any other defenseman on the current roster.

Talks between the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers looked to be heating up this week which were rumored to have Toronto send Schenn to the Flyers with forward James Van Riemsdyk coming the other way.

It is yet to be proven if the trade rumors were in fact true, but with so much chatter the past few days, one has to think there was somehting to them. Now, with JVR on the disabled list with a concussion, the trade looks to be dead in the water, but that does not mean Burke will stop looking for a big body forward to help bolster his top-six.

It is believed that Burke would like to deal from a position of strength, which means a defenseman—one of Schenn, Komisarek or Franson—will likely be gone before long.

Should Burke deal a defenseman it is very likely Gardiner will be back with the Maple Leafs, as he was merely a victim of the numbers game, rather than poor play being the factor in Gardiner’s demotion.

We underestimeated this kid once before, it would be foolish to do it again—with that in mind, expect Gardiner back soon.

Until next time,


1 Comment

  1. Hudson says:

    Gardiner will indeed be back. Dare I say, I am almost glad JVR is concussed and he’s not coming to TO. I just don’t have a good feeling about him.

    We can be pretty sure something is going to happen in the next couple of weeks. And I can’t wait. Burke always seems to pull off something exciting.

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