I remember not caring much for Kabs his first few seasons until him and McCabe formed some nice chemistry. He made a lot of boneheaded plays in his younger years, as do most rookies, but Im not seeing that with Gardiner. He's playing the way Kaberle did when he was 25 right now.
I would say that Gardiner is the best offensive-ish, puck moving defenceman rookie since....frig....Al Iafrate perhaps? Thats going back.
Schenn was the best stay at home rookie dman we've had since the 80's; actually I can't think of one better as a rook, Luke Richardson maybe?????
I was never a fan of Alex Steen but his best season that I recall here was his rookie season, which isn't saying a whole heck of a lot. Im still glad we traded him. Even if we got hosed.
Things looked bright with Steen, Stajan as our future captain, Jiri's Tlusty and Kyle Wellwood.
Gardiner brings that game like a Lidstrom or a Neidermayer would, great at both ends of the ice.
He is a big part of this team and a big part of the success so far.
Even so, you cannot justify putting him ahead of those guys atm as he hasn't really reached those (unrealistic IMO) expectations. He has not made an impact like Potvin did in his rookie season, or Reimer even. A case can still be made for Kaberle and Schenn as well.