You saw it coming. From a mile away. You just knew it.
A player with the abilities of Jake Gardiner will impress when he is given the chance. He has in the past and is doing so now. The type of player he is, allows him to produce in most situations. We all know what he is capable of, and he is showing off his talents quite well in the 2011 addition of Toronto Maple Leafs training camp.
The Maple Leafs acquired Jake Gardiner as part of the Francois Beauchemin trade last February and was the prized piece of the deal. The organization immediately looked upon him as one of their top prospects and he took over as the top prospect on defense without a doubt.
Gardiner is playing tremendously well this training camp for the Leafs and has gained the considerable eyes from Toronto management and fans alike.
The Minnesota native has the love from Leafs fans, he has the recognition in the NHL as one of the better prospects. The smooth skater put up 41 points in 41 games for the Wisconsin Badgers of the WCHA last season. But what he doesn’t have is the benefit of the doubt from the Maple Leafs organization. He is playing well, in an unfortunate situation.
The Maple Leafs have seven defenseman for the time being that seem to be locks for a spot with the big club. Seven defenseman to fill six spots include names like Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, John Michael Liles, and Mike Komisarek. Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson, and Keith Aulie round up the rest of the core as Jake Gardiner qualifies as the eighth spot on the Maple Leafs depth chart.
The least Gardiner can do is impress and he is doing a lot of that now! He has played in four of the five Maple Leafs pre-season games so far and will survive the wave of training camp cuts tomorrow.
The plan was to have Gardiner take the “Keith Aulie route” to the NHL which means he would start with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL but his play has enabled him to be in the mix. He will need to take things to another level to beat out one of the other defenseman.
It will be EXTREMELY tough to release him from the roster and place him in the minors. The Maple Leafs would be forced to watch him dominate in the AHL. However, it might be the best case scenario for him despite his production. The AHL has a lot to teach and to prolong that willingness to play in the NHL can do wonders for a player.
Ron Wilson won’t budge from the hype, if Gardiner attains a spot on the roster it will mean he truly deserved it and would be better off playing in the NHL. The Maple Leafs have already discussed not rushing him into the NHL.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me at: Raihanhussain@msn.com. All inquiries are welcome!