Blueliner Jake Gardiner signs five-year contract with Maple Leafs

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed restricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner to a five-year contract reportedly worth $20.25 million, or an average annual value of $4.05 million.

“He had a great year last year,” Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said. “He’s clearly still improving. This isn’t a player who has reached his ceiling yet. There’s a lot more for Jake to give.”

“He’s already a very good player. … We think there’s a chance he could improve dramatically over the five-year period,” he added.

Gardiner scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in the final 14 games last season to finish with 31 (10 goals, 21 assists) in 80 games. He has 17 goals, 65 points and a minus-5 rating in 167 NHL games over three seasons.

He was second in scoring among Maple Leafs defenseman behind Cody Franson and his average ice time of 21:04 was second behind Dion Phaneuf (23:34).

Selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round (No. 17) of the 2008 NHL Draft, the 24-year-old was traded to Toronto on Feb. 9, 2011 with forward Joffrey Lupul and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft for defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

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