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Gardiner Signs Five-Year Contract With Maple Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Defenceman Jake Gardiner has signed a five-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team announced Tuesday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but it is worth $20.25 million (an average annual value of $4.05 million), according to multiple media reports.

Gardiner, a restricted free agent, scored 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in the final 14 games last season to finish with 31 (10 goals, 21 assists) in 80 games. He was second in scoring among Maple Leafs defenseman behind Cody Franson's 33 points and his average ice time of 21:04 was second behind Dion Phaneuf (23:34).

"He had a great year last year," Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis told the Toronto Star. "He's clearly still improving. This isn't a player who has reached his ceiling yet. There's a lot more for Jake to give. He's already a very good player. ... We think there's a chance he could improve dramatically over the five-year period."

Gardiner, 24, was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round (No. 17) of the 2008 NHL Draft. He was traded to Toronto on Feb. 9, 2011 with forward Joffrey Lupul and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft for defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

"[Coach Randy Carlyle] thinks a lot of Jake," Nonis told the newspaper. "He does push him in certain ways that Jake had to adjust to, but it's only because Randy knows how good Jake can be. Having Jake locked up for five years will make Randy very happy."

Gardiner has 17 goals, 65 points and a minus-5 rating in 167 NHL games over three seasons.

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