Toronto general manager Dave Nonis joined Prime Time Sports Tuesday to discuss the move, and is impressed with Gardiner’s growth both mentally and physically.
“His game has improved dramatically in the past 10 days to two weeks,” Nonis said. “He’s showing the speed, puck-carrying ability and power-play ability that he showed last year. He was able to sustain for five games in a row and became a real option for us….We’ve had a little bit of difficulty getting the puck to our forwards and he can help us in that area.”
Gardiner would only have to dress for 3 more games before he’d have to clear waivers if he were to be sent back down. #Leafs
The 22-year-old is considered to be one of the best young defenceman in the Leafs’ system and showed significant promise during his 75 games with the club last year, registering seven goals and 23 assists.
However, the Maple Leafs GM was quick to point out that Gardiner is not the answer to Toronto’s problems.
“He is not the saviour,” Nonis said. “He’s a very good player we saw last year that could do a lot of things for us when he’s at the top of his game. He’s still a young guy. He’s got well under 100 games and to expect to much would be unfair to him. He’s been playing very very well. He’s not going to come here any solve all problems but he will help us in some areas.”
“He knows he can play in this league because he did it last year and did it well. It’s really no different than Kadri. He’s done a lot of good things and knows there’s a lot of work left ahead to become a complete player. Jake’s no different. He’s got some holes in his game. He knows he’s got to improve in those areas.”
Gardiner has 31 points in 43 games with the Marlies in 2012-13.
In 22 games with the Maple Leafs this season, Holzer recorded two goals and one assist.