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04-05-2013, 06:02 PM
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Stephen
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Jake Gardiner's Future

I want to start off by saying that by no means do I think Gardiner is a savior or beyond criticism as a young player, but I do feel like the organization has treated him a little bit strangely this season after the concussion time, the prolonged period in the AHL that probably did him no good, and the healthy scratch at this point.

He hasn't impressed me defensively, or even looked like he's been willing to play with a lot of courage since coming back, but I think he's a guy with enough skill and upside that he should be along for the ride and ups and downs in this quest to make the playoffs. I don't think he needs more minor league grooming. If anything, I think he needs to have some rope to run with to get back into a good NHL rhythm, the way Cody Franson did at the beginning of the year.

That said, I have the feeling like he's being written out of the Leafs long term plans at this point. He's not good enough to risk playing on a team that's putting it together, and there's another prospect in Rielly who might bring a similar and superior game in the near future.

I'd almost liken his situation to Fredrik Modin, Steve Sullivan and Jason Smith, three prospects who seemed to have a bright future in Toronto, but found themselves on the outside looking in under the Pat Quinn system for a variety of shortsighted reasons. I almost expect Gards to be moved at the draft for a forward in another JVR for Schenn type swap. It's not the end of the world if we get back proper value with upside, but it does seem disappointing from the perspetive of how bright a light he looked like last year and early in the AHL season.

How do you see this situation? What are your expectations for Jake Gardiner's future with the Toronto Maple Leafs at this point? Does he stay or go?

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