I saw very little restraint in his rover style of play with the Marlies late in the season. He has a lot to learn about picking his spots and defending in the defensive zone. Still, he has the great raw skills that you could project as a defenseman like Mike Green or Brian Campbell. I bet Blacker is closer to the NHL despite being younger.
Put him in the AHL until either injuries, or his own great play make us call him up. If neither of those things happen this year, give him a chance to make the team out of camp next year, and if he doesn't make it, then repeat.
No. When we finally start having a nice bunch of prospects in the system there is no need to rush them and bring them up to early. Let him and the others polish their skills in the AHL with some "guest" appearances in the NHL during the season.
I've seen him play like 2 games on tv and watched highlights from the rest of his games and he is a very good skater with speed and looked very comfortable on the ice even though he only played like what 5 or 6 games for the Marlies I think and will easily be Kaberle's replacement in a year or 2. I honestly don't know how Burke got him and Lupul and a 4th round pick in 2013 just for Beauchemin.
I saw very little restraint in his rover style of play with the Marlies late in the season. He has a lot to learn about picking his spots and defending in the defensive zone. Still, he has the great raw skills that you could project as a defenseman like Mike Green or Brian Campbell.
That's always the question with a puck-moving defenseman or a two-way guy.
With a pure defense-first type, it's easier to give him that #5/6/7 spot on the roster, because you can reasonably send them on the ice for "weak" minutes and expect to be alright. Not only that, but the player will just play his game and continue to develop, even if he's not playing 20 minutes a night.
That's why you see a lot of defensemen who step immediately into the NHL play a pure defensive style.
With a blue liner with an offensive component to his game (like Gardiner), it's not like he's going to hit the ice for his 7-10 minutes and be able to immediately create offense. So he's going to have to also be relied upon to play mistake free hockey (or immediately handed a larger role with the team like Cam Fowler in Anaheim, where in order for him to be effective, he needed to play 20 minutes a night, even if his whole game was well-rounded).
For a player like Gardiner, it's almost a waste to have him in the NHL if the Leafs can only give him third pairing minutes and some powerplay time. Let him develop properly in the minors until he shows that he's ready for a role where he can actually be effective in the big league.