Jake Gardiner has been a nice addition for the Carolina Hurricanes so far. We look at how Gardiner has done early in his tenure in Carolina.
Jake Gardiner has been on the third defensive pair for the Carolina Hurricanes. That just shows how insane the Hurricanes’ defense actually is. Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton are on the first defensive pair and rightfully so. Slavin is a shut-down defenseman and Hamilton has been on a tear offensively to start the year. Brett Pesce and Joel Edmundson are the second defensive pair. Pesce has been elite on defense and is even improving offensively. Edmundson has been a shot blocking machine and has had offensive chances as well.
Gardiner is a very solid offensive defenseman. He has already had a key goal for the Hurricanes this season and fits in nicely on the second power play. His goal was the game winner in overtime against the Washington Capitals for a 3-2 win. He also has one assist on the season, which came in the game against the Florida Panthers.
One thing that has stood out for someone on the third defensive pair is his average time on ice. He averages about five more minutes on the ice than Haydn Fleury who is on the third defensive pair with him. A reason for this is him being on the power play as he would have more opportunities to see the ice than Fleury. He would be on many teams first or second defense pair, but the Hurricanes are just so deep at the position that they have a player of his caliber on the third pair.
He has been very disciplined as far as penalties are concerned. The Hurricanes have been in the penalty box a lot more than they would like to start the season. But Gardiner hasn’t been in the box once. He doesn’t find himself having to reach or hold an opponent. He can keep up with forwards and finds himself positioning correctly most of the time on defense.
Comparing him to ex-Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is fair. They are known for their offensive style and not their defense, although Gardiner is more of a passer. Faulk had inconsistencies on defense that hasn’t been seen from Gardiner yet. He doesn’t pinch on offense when there is nothing there and he doesn’t leave his partner alone on odd man rushes. He is better at positioning himself in the defensive end than Faulk. The Carolina Hurricanes got an offensive defenseman they needed to replace Faulk and for a way lower price.
He is more known for his passing and how he can be a quarterback on the power play, but the way he plays defense is underrated. Nothing is really spectacular about what he does, he is just very consistent.
Also, Gardiner should be able to get some assists and a few goals on the power play, but the other unit just looks better right now. He will get his chances to prove his worth on the power play. Most notably, the way he moves the puck on the power play gives a different approach to the power play. Instead of looking for the power slap shot at the point, Gardiner is there to distribute the puck and help set up goals. The power play doesn’t run through his shot, it runs through him passing to find the best scoring opportunity.
Jake Gardiner will continue to show the quality of addition he was, especially for the price tag, and the Carolina Hurricanes have shown time and time again that having a good defense matters.
Question for CC Readers: How do you think Jake Gardiner’s 2019-20 season will play out?