New Jersey Devils: Jake Gardiner Claim Is A No Brainer

Jake Gardiner #51 of the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Jake Gardiner #51 of the Carolina Hurricanes. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils missed out on Jake Gardiner before last season. He was the best available left-handed defenseman, and it was clear he could have helped this team. There wasn’t really anyone that made sense to pair with P.K. Subban, and John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine tried playing Damon Severson and Sami Vatanen on their off hand to make it work. The season went off the rails, and now the Devils are once again staring into the abyss when it comes to competition.

The Devils are once again looking terrible, so adding a veteran defenseman might not be on the top of their list of things to do, but this one still feels like a no brainer. The Devils added Ryan Murray in the offseason to sure up the left side of the defense, but he hasn’t fit into the Lindy Ruff system, and he’s been a healthy scratch more times than not as of late. The defense as a whole has been a disaster. Nobody outside of Ty Smith is playing acceptable, and Damon Severson has been their best player on the unit. This, despite him scoring on his own net in the last game.

So, the Carolina Hurricanes trying to sneak Jake Gardiner through waivers is a gift. His advanced stats look good, as he passes the eye test. This addition should make literally everyone happy among Devils fans. Even better, he fits the Lindy Ruff system about as well as anyone.

The New Jersey Devils need to make a waiver claim on Jake Gardiner.

Gardiner is currently out with an injury, but that’s not a problem for New Jersey. He’d likely have to quarantine for a little while until he’s ready to return. Then, the Devils can see what they have for the final few weeks of the season.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

The Hurricanes are trying to get cap flexibility by moving Gardiner now. He’s making just over $4 million this season. He still has two years left after this season, and the Devils could use him at that price. With Murray, Vatanen, Dmitry Kulikov, and Connor Carrick on the final years of their contracts, this is an easy way to add a veteran presence for the future.

Gardiner can be had for free. The Devils don’t have to worry about getting the best possible deal on the market as they did with Murray. They can get him without sending even one pick to the Hurricanes. Will the Canes be mad about it? Probably, but after how the Sami Vatanen deal worked out for them last season, don’t expect many deals with them in the future.

Let’s add in the fact the Devils are losing depth on D thanks to another COVID situation. The Binghamton Devils had to suspend play in the second intermission due to protocols, and now one of their left-handed defenseman Will Butcher is on the protocol list himself. Who knows what they will be when they come back.

There is no reason the Devils shouldn’t be all over this move. He might not like it at first, but pairing him with Subban right away might do wonders for both of them. He can even out his numbers while also being able to get more offensive numbers. This is the perfect move for a Devils team that has no answers on defense.