A lot of people won’t read this and will consider me insane for suggesting something like this, but if you have decided to give me a chance to explain my logic, thank you. We know Carolina is a team that likes to be innovative, so we will likely see them address holes on the roster with an out-of-the-box approach. Well, would it not be on-brand for the Hurricanes to replace from within?
Tony DeAngelo was sent to his boyhood Philadelphia Flyers on the second day of the draft for three picks. We’ve already talked about this here on Cardiac Cane. I’ll link to it just below this paragraph so you can read it if you would like to. But now, the Hurricanes are going to have to find a way to replace the Sewell, New Jersey native and that is not going to be an easy task.
However, I am of the mind that Carolina’s answer to their need for an offensively gifted defenseman resides within the organization as it is. As I mentioned in the title, I believe the answer to Carolina’s major need for offense from the blueline spent last year on the injured reserve and that Jake Gardiner is indeed the answer to that question.
When the Hurricanes do eventually move into next year, the team needs to replace the offense and powerplay production of Tony DeAngelo. That is Jake Gardiner’s area of expertise. A lot of the fans that hate his defensive miscues and mistakes can still join me in acknowledging his fantastic range of passing and offensive prowess. Gardiner is one of the most effective powerplay quarterbacks in the league.
Is he defensively unstable? Certainly, but DeAngelo wasn’t exactly a stone wall in his own zone. If the Canes can cater to meet the needs of Gardiner, the results could be very similar. There’s way less risk with his off-ice baggage (Gardiner by all accounts is a stand-up guy) and Gardiner is out of contract at the end of next year if this experiment doesn’t go well. There’s no reason to stay with it if the results are not what you’re looking for.
What puts most people off of the idea of keeping Jake Gardiner around is his $4.05 million cap hit that expires at the end of next year. His skill set is very similar to the recently departed DeAngelo. Is it a perfect fit? No. DeAngelo’s a right-hand shot and it made his transitions more comfortable on one side of the ice which will be the opposite to Gardiner, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
If the choice is to use valuable futures to get rid of the final year of the Gardiner or keep the future assets you have and see what happens using a player that is already on the roster for 82 games and see if anything happens. If not, it will be cheaper to move him at the deadline. If it is a good fit and Gardiner reverts back to playing the way he was before the COVID pause in 2019-20, then you reap the rewards of a clever decision.