Latest Leafs & Penguins Rumors – October 8, 2013.

Rival clubs interested in Maple Leafs blueliner Jake Gardiner, a list of defensemen who could help the Leafs, and an update on Penguins d-man Matt Niskanen.

Rival clubs interested in Leafs d-man Jake Gardiner.

Rival clubs interested in Leafs d-man Jake Gardiner.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman reports some clubs have spoken with the Toronto Maple Leafs regarding promising defenseman Jake Gardiner, who is off to a shaky start to this season. Friedman considers the enquiries more of a “feeling-out” process, rather than the Leafs actively shopping Gardiner. He does feel if the Leafs do move the young blueliner, it’ll be for “young talent or assets”, suggesting to look at clubs like Dallas, Florida or Minnesota.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’s too early to suggest Gardiner’s available, especially with the Leafs off to a good start (3-0-0). He’s young and will need time to mature, but he has considerable promise. If the Leafs give up on him too soon, they could regret it for years. Not surprising some teams have interest, but I’ll be shocked if the Leafs move him. Maybe that changes if the club is struggling later in the season and needs to address a serious depth issue. Not now.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran observed the Leafs have chased a stay-at-home defenseman since trading Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk, . While acknowledging it’s too early in the season to know which blueliners are available, he listed Anaheim’s Luca Sbisa and Bryan Allan, Carolina’s Tim Gleason, Nashville’s Kevin Klein, Calgary’s Shane O’Brien, Phoenix’s Derek Morris and Philadelphia’s Hal Gill as those the Leafs should keep an eye on this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As McGran noted, if any of these rearguards become available, it’ll be later in the season, depending upon their salaries, UFA status and which teams believe they’re playoff bound. In other words, mid-season at the earliest.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: Shelly Anderson reports Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen is already feeling very comfortable in his new role filling in for the injured Kris Letang.  He’s currently leading the team in points (3) and plus-minus, and is tied for the team lead in blocked shots. Niskanen acknowledged the trade rumors which dogged him during the off-season, claiming they never originated with the team but rather from fans and media. He acknowledged the Penguins’ limited cap space was behind the speculation, admitting the possibility it could still happen, but said he’s focused on his game and loves playing for the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niskanen could get moved at some point in the season, but everything I’ve read and heard since September indicates management would rather keep him.  If he keeps playing as well as he has to start this season, he’ll become entrenched as an invaluable member of the Penguins defense.


  1. Derek Morris stay at home defenceman? Hall Gill??? If by “stay at home” you mean dont bother coming to the rink stay at home…

    • Lol… Can’t wait for the first losing streak and what the articles are then

      • Add Brennan to the list of D men that seem to be able to produce from the back end and Id say we could probably afford to move Gardiner. McWilliam could be that guy we have been chasing for some time as a stay at home type.

        I have my fingers crossed that if Nonis does have thoughts of trading Gardiner for something it gets done sooner rather than later after Randy sits him in the press box as he has done in the past diminishing the value of the return the Leafs could possibly get for him.

        • Makes no sense to move Gardiner unless we get a high Center prospect (projected #1 center) that is ready to take the next step, What if Rielly does not pan out, We need to keep our puck moving dmen, The only other option i would consider is putting him in a package to get Keith Yandle, But salary would have to go back. Yandle would take some of the pressure off Phaneuf

          • Completely agree. Far too risky and uneccesary to move Gardiner anytime soon. He typically starts slow but when he gets going….

            Yup unless it’s a bonafide #1 centre / propect coming back in a deal it doesn’t help the Leafs. Yandle would be a good trade but to your point, cap space complicates deals.

      • Yep, get your popcorn ready the show is just beginning and already Philly firing a coach and rumors of more happening there, Leafs off to a good start and people (including myself) wanting some needs to be addressed (that probably should have been looked at already) teams scrambling for defence…etc etc etc. Its going to be a fun year I think.

    • Watch the game much? Apparently not. Hal Gill and Derek Morris definitely are and if you were a hockey fan, you might know that.

      • Hall Gill was bought out because the zPreds realized he is no longer effective then was cut by a team with terrible D in Philly when he got his PTO and a 1 year deal still hasnt played a game what does that tell ya about how good a stay at home D man not plsying on maybe 1 of the oldest slowest d in the league. Derek Morris is Derek Morris on a 35 -36 year old d man who on a pretty good defensive team he is a minus -18 over the past 2 years and has a giant career minus 6 foot not overly large barely physical. Now ask your self the same question do you watch the game?

        • Philly is doing so well without Gill they fired their coach. Maybe that says more about the team and a bunch of bad decisions then it does Gill. Morris plays partner with Yandle who is often out of position and coughs up the puck regularly trying to make the big play. His numbers would be much worse if it wasn’t for Morris covering his butt. Thats why they play him there. Pay attention.

          • LOL!

          • Morris is – 18 over the past 2 years Yandle is a plus (+ 9 over the same period) player. How does that work?(Unless math has changed since I learned it thats a difference of 27 over a season and a half) If he is picking up all the minus’ covering Yandles mistakes while playing on the same line?

  2. Well here we go…….

    I posted all last year that I love Gardiner GREAT skater very good shot in close but his defensive short comings will be eventually exposed and once that happens it will lower his stock …I posted this frequently!!

    I still firmly believe that the Leafs should play this guy at wing ……he is a NATURAL winger!!!!

    great speed down the boards
    Offensive minded
    gets pucks in deep into the corners
    has enough wheels to back check
    has a very accurate shot in close….. all of which you want from a premium winger …

    if ANY LEAF brass read this…..please give this a shot YOU WILL BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED !!!!!

    If the Leafs trade Gardiner ….I would inquire about Darnell Nurse ….he is going to be a beast next year him and Rielly on the same pairing could be unreal!!

    Nonis is very smart and very patient …..QUALITY D MEN are in the highest demand right now !!

    With all the teams looking for a quality D man it would be stupid for PITT to give up on Niskanen as i have maintained…… ( they don’y …NEED…. to make a trade especially moving out quality D men )

    • Just a quick note :


      Really need a # 1 goalie….. BIGTIME!!
      I would say that if trades start to happen it will be with these teams first
      Edmonton first !!!
      If Calgary finishes last thats ok with them …1st rounder pick
      Philly is in trouble as if they make a trade they have to move out significant cap space to make an acquisition !

      • Back check… Flames do not need a Goalie… I have heard this a lot from fans of other teams. Here are the reasons why:

        1. Ramo seems as though he could be an average Goalie. For now that is what we want. A bonafide top goaltender would make it difficult to assess the rest of the team. This happened when we had Kipper, he kept the team’s record respectable for so long and management was not able to accurately assess the team which is why the rebuild was delayed.

        2. We have great prospect depth in net with Gillies and Brossoit a few years away. It is best to let them develop and to add to our pool of Goalies via the draft. With average Goaltending now Management will have a better time assessing the team, determining short term and long term needs, determining strengths, weaknesses etc.

        3. Acquiring a Goaltender would send a negative message to our prospects. It might seem like it would speed up the rebuild but it could actually set it back. Best to give Gillies, Brossoit, Ortio and Berra a chance to develop and compete for a spot

        • The team has now had a 3 goal lead in each of its games and has not been able to hold the lead due to average goaltending …id say they need a goalie other than 2 journey men !!

          • Or too grow together as a team and get a top 5 pick instead of some other goalie who probably wont be around in 4-5 years before this team is amy good.

      • Can anyone say Miller Time!

    • I would only trade Gardiner to address our organizational weakness. Center depth. If someone on our current roster gets hurt, we have Smith and McKegg next in line. If one of our defense gets hurt, we have Liles,Brennan,Percy,MacWilliam,Holzer,Blacker,Marshall etc. etc. Gardiner for a Strome or Jenner would be the move I’m looking for. Add one of these players to Kadri and Gauthier and we are solid for years.
      As for stay at home defenseman, only Klein interests me and could be a good right-handed D partner for Rielly.

      • Good call Kurt good call

        • A year and a half ago I posted a Gardiner for a young minor league kid named Charlie Coyle …I was told to go ^%$@ myself by a few posters here ????
          In the same text I was told that Gardiner is an absolute star and that Coyle is just a guy who hasn’t even played an NHL gamer yet …hes hurt right now but Id still make the call.

          With Gauthier in the wings Id like to get a back a shut down D man if possible

          …..Id dare say that Gardiner will not be traded straight up player for player

          ….Leafs have some leverage right now with a high demand for D men and depth in the organization
          I think they can pry out an Oliver Ekman Larson type player in a multi layered deal !

          • A half a day ago you were saying Glenncross is a defenseman and you keep saying Gardiner should play wing on a team where the top 6 wingers are pretty good and pretty deep. My point is people tell you to go ^%$% yourself due to the amount of nonsense you spew and how you do it not 1 incident in particular.

          • @ SHTICKY

            I DIDNT SAY THAT !!!!

          • Easy bc Im not trying to argue or get ya going. Im just pointing out what could lead to peoples contempt for you, if you would relax a bit stop puttin !!! And caps lock at the end of everything and filter out some of the nonsense (think about it for a few seconds before you write it) that you know is going to get people worked up, some might be more receptive of some of your ideas is all I am saying. Sometimes we do agree and I admit some of your ideas have merit sometimes, its the way you come across to people that greatly affects peoples opinion of you and your opinion.

      • nice comment Kurt, only other thing i would to is package Gardiner for a top 2 Dman, to play with Phaneuf. Yandle. Sure we have alot of depth at D. But a first line Dman would go along way

        • Yandle? Salary cap says hi hows that work with out sending a significant amount of salary back? Phx is in no rush to trade Yandle for Gardiner Im sure unless it involved a very high pick. Not to mention he makes 4 mill more than Gardiner. If Gardiner is going anywhere it would be to a team looking for D not wanting to trade away possibly their best D man. This makes very little sense with out even getting in to probably the only reason to dal Gardiner inn the first place is no depth at center. A shut down type D man could be involved in Gardiner talks sure but I doubt it would be a guy like Yandle aiming a bit (way to) high.

          • If Pheniox is out of it come Trade deadline i would not be surprised if they traded him for prospects, Im not saying just to the Leafs but if Leafs were mid pack playoff team the could put a package together, Biggs Gardiner 1st and Liles to even out cap situation

          • Why are the Leafs trading Gardiner Biggs and a first?…lol holy Mother Hubbard Batman the cupboards are bare enough. Dont need to be selling a twenty year old who hasnt played anything but some college hockey and could be a very nice piece down the road, a first round pick and potentially a number 2 or at least a top 4 D who is only 23, unless its for something much more in needy than Yandle. Im not sure Id do that unless its a true young star with a good contract coming back not taking on 5 mill more in salary when you still have Phaneuf and Franson to resign possibly Ranger Bolland Raymond etc etc, still have Liles to figure out, plus you have affordable guys in the Marlies who maybe ready and Reilly. Alot of change would have to happen before Id want any part of Yandle or for that matter short of maybe Pietroangelo that kind of deal involving a D man.

          • schticky…agree about Yandle, plus if Phx does trade Yandle it will be for a forward not a defenceman. The Yotes probably have the best d prospects in the league and Gardiner probably doesn’t even make their team in a few years.

          • Yandle is a luxury we can’t afford. Sure it would be nice to go all NY Rangers paying guys but we don’t know how much the cap will be next year. Phaneuf, Franson and Gardiner are all up for new contracts. Good seasons from them means (minimum) 6 mil, 4 mil, 2.5 + mil. This makes no mention of keeping Fraser and Ranger also on 1 year deals. Our top 6 forwards minus Kadri all make over 4 mil/year. A big year from Raymond and I doubt he gives us the ol’ 1 million dollar favor. Bolland is on his way to a nice raise as well. That’s why I suggest moving Gardiner for that center just on the cusp of realizing his high potential, but still on a 3 year entry level contract. A player born around 92, 93 ready to bring it in our top 9. Next year I have no doubt Rielly will be full time and will give us cap relief due to his ELC.
            Bottom line our organization is strong on the wings, defense and in goal. One more center (high end potential) and we are golden. Work them in and keep drafting strong (no more trading 1st rd picks). Never go back to the days of missing the playoffs 7 years in a row. We are an original 6 franchise, no excuse for that extreme level of failure.

    • My grandpa always use to say that about Kaberle lol

  3. I don’t get the whole Gardiner trade notion, especially with the Leafs salary cap situation. He’s a top prospect with a low salary hit and the team is up against the cap. Some have suggested that the Leafs keep Morgan Reilly with the big club and move Gardiner. I don’t get that either – is there a law against having more than one puck-moving defencemen?
    Here’s an idea – keep this group together for a while and see what happens. Radical, I know, but it might work.

    • All well and good but thats whats been the deal for the better part of 2 seasons with Gardiner …keep it all together ..there comes a time around the league when a player looses its top end value …..and by the waiting game you end up with a 4th rounder like Colborne

    • Toyally agree, Gardiner has alot of potential. Unless someone blows our mind for a top center prospect or top pairing dman you keep Gardiner. I remember when we did not have a puck moving dman now we have some. Hold on to them.

      • Then you must remember trading away a valuable future piece in Rask with out seeing a sniff of what he can do, and now you want to do the same thing with Biggs and a first round pick?
        Gardiner we have a pretty good idea what he is all about and so do other GMs around the league. Gardiner on his own (or with very little added) will suffice in adding some depth up front possibly by adding a UFA like Kuli (pretty decent defensive forward) who is a pretty nice piece to make it of a higher end asset, but not things that could affect the team for years down the road like first round picks and young prospects who havent even got their feet wet yet.

  4. if we are gonna do trade proposals who wins this trade
    Mikael Granlund for Gardiner. Leafs get Center Depth and prospect. And Minnesota gets Puck moving Dman. plus Gardiner is from Minnesota

  5. Since for the most part we seem to be talking centers here is an interesting tid bit, no McClemment at Leaf practice today Smith is already called up so we better bubble wrap Kadri and Bolland.

    • Nvm baby on the way, not injured.

    • His wife went into labour this morning and he is a game time decision.

  6. To me this year seems to be all about defense and goalies. A lot of teams need defense right now, Colorado, Tampa, Philly (quality D), Edmonton to name a few and then there are those big glaring goalie issue teams hello Edmonton and Philly (CGY doesn’t actually care at this point).

    As far as the Leafs go, I don’t think they should do anything. They don’t need to blow it up to get a quality #1 center right now because they are so deep on the wings and have great center depth with Bozak, Kadri, Bolland, McClement. None are top #1 C, but with Lupul, JVR, Kulemin, Kessel, Raymond, Clarkson, Ashton, and Bodie why be worried yet? Bernier/Reimer are a great net tandem and there are lots of defensive options for the Leafs to play around with to find something that works. I just think for once Toronto is sitting in a position where they should wait and see because they are going to be in a position next year or in two years that every team wants to be in:

    At least $2.5 is coming off the books from buyouts and retained salary, the salary cap is going up, and guys like Biggs, Gauthier, MacWilliam, Percy, Reilly, Bodie, Granberg, McKegg, Brennan, and Blacker are all going to be pushing for roster spots and when those are the kind of choices you have to make that is when you are in a good position.

    AKA Toronto fans should actually be quite satisfied with their team and progress for once. It could be worse, you would be the Oilers with a ton of top tier talent, no depth, and spinning your wheels.

  7. I’d be hesitant moving Gardiner.

    It’s tough to gauge his value, he’s a tremendous skater and I really like his upside. I can’t help but think he’s being held back by Carlyle.

    I get what a lot of Leafs fan’s are saying… Morgan Reilly is likely to make the jump next year and it looks like Phaneuf will be signed to a new deal. Franson is in the mix – Depending on salary demands and Gardiner may be your best trade chip as it’s tough to figure where he fits in.

    Personally I’d hang on to him, he should sign a reasonable contract next year and in my opinion will prove to be a great asset.

    On a side note, I do not see the Isles having any interest in moving Strome, especially if the return is Gardiner alone. Islanders already poses a diverse group of defenseman in their ranks. From the Islanders perspective i don’t see it making sense.

    • Agreed with the islanders also could see something like that has been mentioned with the Ducks and Wild tho but Strome with the amount of young D the Islanders have wouldn’t make as much sense. I also agree Gardiner has tones of upside will and likely sign reasonably, IMO its just a matter of balance, the Leafs have a number of D that should or could play in the league in the next couple years outside of Reilly even who play a very similar style of game, with needs to be addressed if they hope to advance more than around or 2 particularly if injuries become an issue. Smith and McKegg are not NHL quality centers yet. I said the same thru out the summer with the Franson negotiations it is nothing against him as a player quite the opposite young d men have their flaws but with how the league looks at these type players now it may be wise to move 1 of the while you have an abundance of them and maximize their value to acquire something thats lacking..

  8. Gardiner – I understand all the hype of trading him.. He’s a young skilled player playing a position a need for many teams. From the leafs prospective they have an abundance of these type of players as noted many times above. I too would be hesitant to move him until either or both of these things happen, phaneuf is resigned, Reilly plays his 10th game or is sent down. The season is only 3 games in and while the flyers like to jump to decisions most other teams don’t.. The leafs will soon be dealing from a few positions of strength, goal, defence and depth wingers. As long as nonis is patient and strikes the best deal they should be able to address a couple of the teams needs…

  9. while im sure dallas doesnt need him, i would swap gardiner for olekiak (sp) one for one.