Ok, Gardiner is a RFA and needs a new deal. Nonis and co. obviously feel Jake is a core piece (with what they have said about him) and still think he has more to show. Question is: do you give him a Bridge deal so he can prove his worth or give him a Pay-For-Potential deal to try and catch him before he reaches his potential (IE a JVR type deal)
Here's how i would describe the two options options:
Bridge DealPay-for-potentialThe NHL favourite. Little risk of back firing because by the end of the deal you will be a lot more certain of a players true worth. Being a little more sure/confident in a players progress might be worth the extra $1-$2 million per year they get. Think Kadri. $2.9 million now but with one more near 50 point season and he could be looking at that $5 million for 5 years that a similar 2c with 40-50 point season(s) signed in New York, named Derrick Brassard.Big risk, big reward. Philly did this with JVR. They thought it was in the process of backfiring but then the Leafs reaped the rewards after the trade. The fact that i can't really name any others that were successful with this is probably not a great indication of it being a good idea.
Let's apply this to Jake Gardiner:
Good news is that Jake has 3 years until UFA status (as far as i can tell, might be two at the very least). So a 2-3 year bridge deal would make Jake a UFA, which is never a good thing. As with all RFA scenario's, if the player is serious about playing NHL hockey then the team has the majority of the power which is why a lot of them get less than $3.5 million on bridge deals.
So because we have no idea what the two sides are looking at cap-wise, let's assume Gardiner gets a standard 2 year deal for $3 million per season. It's a nice raise on his $1.1 million he earned last year but still under his future value as his agent would argue lol.
Bad news is that Jake has had a concussion before, never a good thing. Good news, so has JVR and that hasn't affected him at all. Every player is different but that's a little encouraging. Gardiner scored 31 points last season. 44 defenseman out scored him (303 Dmen played in the NHL last year). Jake Gardiner scored 10 goals last season. 23 players scored more goals than he did. So we are dealing with a defenseman that is currently producing but we all agree could improve defensively and maybe even offensively. Now, not many UFAs this year were really comparable with Jake. Maybe we can attach Niskanen's $5.75 million to what Gardiner could get but Nisky had a great 46-point year.
Because this type of deal is naturally going to be more expensive than a bridge deal, jake gets more than $3 million on this deal. Add in the fact we would buy UFA years from him also increases the value. Jake and his agent will also be fighting to get as much as they possible can, and the Leafs will be fighting to limit risk which makes for a nice compromise and they meet in the middle. I'd speculate that on this sort of deal, Jake would be a 5-6 year $4.0 million per year player.
So what do you think? Which interests you most? Do you think enough of Gardiner's ceiling that you are willing to give him more money and term to try and cut cap corners down the road? Or are you unsure still and would take the $$$ hit and let him prove what he's worth?