It took two months, but Jake Gardiner finally has a home. The Carolina Hurricanes have signed the UFA defenseman to a four-year contract worth $4.05 million per season.
The Hurricanes get:
Gardiner, who slumped to just 30 points (3g-27a) in 62 games in 2018-19 after recording the first 50-point season of his career in 2017-18. Gardiner also missed all of March with a back injury, which affected his overall performance. Gardiner should fit in well with the Canes’ run-and-gun and analytics approach to hockey.
This might not be the best season to draft a random Hurricanes defenseman for your fantasy team. Do you go with Gardiner? Justin Faulk? Dougie Hamilton? Jaccob Slavin? Brett Pesce? Someone else? I guess if you are to draft one, it might be the recently-acquired Gardiner, who is now the shiny new toy. However, Gardiner is actually now the fourth-highest-paid defenseman on the Canes behind Hamilton, Slavin, and Faulk. This is a reflection on what a great deal cap-wise this is for the Hurricanes.
Elliotte Friedman provided a little more clarity on what might happen next.
With CAR’s signing of Jake Gardiner, there is uncertainty about the future of Justin Faulk. Let’s see where this goes.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 6, 2019
The Hurricanes’ power play finished the 2018-19 season 20th in the NHL with a 17.8 percent efficiency rate, so there is lots of room for improvement. Faulk in particular wasn’t the answer, as he scored just ten power-play points in spite of being second on the team and first among defensemen in PPTOI (2:56). So don’t rule out the Canes trying Gardiner on the first-unit power play.
Hamilton owners looking for a break this offseason might end up with more of the same in 2019-20. With an even more crowded blue line at the moment, Hamilton stands to stay on the second-unit power play, which continues to limit his upside. In fact, Hamilton owners might prefer that he is the one traded over Faulk, although keep in mind that Faulk is a UFA after season's end.
Let's assume that Faulk stays in Carolina and on the first-unit power play for the time being, though. A 4F-1D arrangement keeps Gardiner on the second unit, which is where he was in Toronto last season. Gardiner’s value shouldn’t change significantly, and he should be on pace for about a 40-point season given last season’s pace. You can find out how Gardiner’s signing affects him and possibly other Hurricanes’ projected point totals by downloading an updated copy of the Fantasy Guide. (If you haven’t purchased it yet, what are you waiting for?)
It’s been assumed that Gardiner would be leaving Toronto, which was cemented with the Leafs’ acquisition of Tyson Barrie. You can read about the situation that Gardiner has left in our Fantasy Take on the Barrie/Nazem Kadri trade.
Players this helps, in order:
Martin Necas (all are potential second-unit power-play options and could benefit from whichever of Faulk, Hamilton, and/or Gardiner doesn’t make the first unit)
Players this hurts, in order:
Slavin (may be bumped off power play entirely)
Jake Bean (more likely in the AHL for another season)
Faulk (assuming he stays)
Fantasy owners are already discussing this deal on the Forum. Give your take here!