DEFENSE – TOR
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 27
SOG: 75 | +/-: -5
This season has turned into a nightmare in Toronto, where the bright hopes for a playoff berth have turned into planning for a seventh straight early summer. One bright spot has been the play of Gardiner, who enters the final week of the season with 26 points, the most among first-year defensemen, and has earned a top-four spot on Toronto’s blue line.
Gardiner, a first-round pick by Anaheim in 2008, joined the Leafs in a trade last February and turned pro after three years at the University of Wisconsin. He’s showed good offensive skills, including the ability to quarterback a power play.
Gardiner’s season probably won’t end when the Leafs pack up the pucks after April 7 — he’s likely to get more experience by playing for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, in the Calder Cup playoffs.
“If I go down after the (NHL) season is over I think it is a good thing,” Gardiner said. “To experience the playoffs in pro hockey is fun. It gives you more experience for when you make it to the NHL playoffs.”
– via NHL.com