March 14: Gardiner has cleared waivers and can be assigned to the taxi squad.
March 13: Jake Gardiner’s tenure in Carolina hasn’t gone particularly well. He has underwhelmed offensively, been in and out of the lineup at times and now he finds himself on waivers, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was first to report (Twitter link).
The 30-year-old is in his second season with the Hurricanes and after being a core defenseman over most of his eight seasons with Toronto, he has been more of a depth player with Carolina with his offensive numbers and playing time taking big dips as a result. So far this season, Gardiner has yet to score while recording seven assists in 17 games. Meanwhile, his average ice time has dipped below 16 minutes a game to just 15:48, surpassing his previous career-low which was set last season. Clearly, this isn’t the return they were expecting when they gave him a four-year, $16.2MM contract in September of 2019.
Between the contract and below-average performance, it’s seemingly all but a foregone conclusion that Gardiner will clear at 11 AM CT on Sunday where he’ll be free to be shuffled to the taxi squad. Several teams have placed underachieving, high-priced veterans on waivers in recent weeks for that very purpose, to free up some cap and roster flexibility while bringing the player back onto the active roster for games they’ll be playing in. At this stage, it would seem as if Gardiner will follow that path; this isn’t a case where his time with Carolina will be over.
As for how much cap room they would save when Gardiner eventually is sent to the taxi squad, they would only free up a prorated $1.075MM on the days he’s not on the active roster. But with the Hurricanes looking as if they’ll be a buyer once again at the trade deadline, any extra cap room would go a long way.