The Carolina Hurricanes announced on Friday that the club has signed unrestricted free agent Jake Gardiner to a four-year, $16.2 million contract. The defenseman will carry an AAV of $4.05 million over the next four seasons.
Gardiner, 29, is coming off of a 30-point season in 62 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the two seasons prior, Gardiner played in 82 games each and compiled 95 points. He logged a career-high 52 points in 2017-18. Since debuting in the NHL in 2011, he has logged 245 points in 551 games and emerged as one of the most productive offensive defensemen in the league.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell released the following statement with the news of the signing:
“Jake is a solid veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play. He’s had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we’re thrilled to have him here.”
Carolina now has five defensemen with an AAV north of $4 million, just like they did last season before Calvin de Haan got traded over the summer.
Here were the highlights from Gardiner’s media call:
Gardiner says he feels "100%" right now. He had some back issues last season, but he says it has healed on its own and he's good to go.— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) September 6, 2019
Other notes: family played a role in picking CAR, his wife loves the area. He had short-term deals on the table, but he wanted something with more term. He sees himself as a great fit on the left side with so much talent on the right side. Obviously, he thinks he can help the PP.— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) September 6, 2019
The full news release from the team is below.
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed defenseman Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract. The deal pays Gardiner an average annual value (AAV) of $4.05 million.
”Jake is a solid veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play,” said Waddell. ”He’s had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we’re thrilled to have him here.”
Gardiner, 29, totaled 30 points (3g, 27a) and ranked third among Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen in plus/minus (+19) in 62 regular-season games in 2018-19. The Minnetonka, Minn., native played his 500th NHL game on Oct. 27, 2018, against Winnipeg and registered his 200th NHL assist on Feb. 25, 2019, against the Islanders. Gardiner returned to action on April 4 after missing 18 games with a back injury, and played in all seven games of the Maple Leafs’ opening-round loss to the Boston Bruins, earning two assists.
Anaheim’s first-round selection, 17th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Gardiner has totaled 45 goals and 200 assists (245 points) and 185 penalty minutes in 551 career NHL regular-season games, all with Toronto. The 6’2”, 203-pound defenseman was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2011-12, after leading rookie blueliners with 30 points (7g, 23a). Gardiner established career highs with 47 assists and 52 points during the 2017-18 season, ranking eighth among league defenseman in assists and tied for 15th in points.
Prior to turning professional, Gardiner spent three seasons at the University of Wisconsin, totaling 19 goals and 56 assists (75 points) in 121 collegiate games. He has represented the United States in international play three times, winning gold at the 2010 World Junior Championship and bronze at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.