Hurricanes Sign Gardiner
The Carolina Hurricanes announced the signing of defenseman Jake Gardiner to a four-year, $16.2-million contract. The annual average value is $4.05 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for speculation of Gardiner rejoining the Toronto Maple Leafs. The salary-cap hit is similar to what the 29-year-old had with the Leafs, though for one year less. It’s much less than the $7 million some observers projected he’d received when the unrestricted free agent market opened on July 1.
Gardiner is part of a very deep Hurricanes defense corps, joining Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, and Justin Faulk. A skilled puck-moving rearguard, he should provide a welcome boost to their blueline production, especially on the power play.
Gardiner also missed 20 games in 2018-19 with a back injury, sending his production tumbling from 52 points in 2017-18 to 30 points last season. That could account for why he didn’t land a more expensive contract. If Gardiner’s fully recovered, however, his point total could rise again to over 40 in 2019-20.
This signing also pushes the Hurricanes above the $81.5-million salary cap by over $1.5 million. They could be forced to trade a player, though that might not be necessary right away if Trevor van Riemsdyk hasn’t recovered from off-season shoulder surgery to open the season. They could also get some savings by demoting a player or two. such as forward Martin Necas and defenseman Gustav Forsling.