Toronto Maple Leafs: Why Their Next Breakout Star Will Be Jake Gardiner

August 11th, 2012 by Ryan Fulford Leave a reply »
After years of anointing Nazem Kadri as the next great Leafs player, Leafs Nation has collectively turned its attention to their smooth-skating, budding defensive star, Jake Gardiner.

That's not to say Kadri won't develop into a good player; however, with the ascension of Jake Gardiner (who was named to the NHL's all-rookie team last season), fans have become enamored with their offensive wunderkind on the blue line.

After a solid rookie campaign in which Gardiner led all rookie defensemen in points, expectations will be higher for the second-year rearguard as he attempts to avoid the dreaded "sophomore slump."

Gardiner is a key cog on the power play and a an astute player that can create opportunities by jumping into the rush—as such, he will be counted on to provide scoring punch from the back-end again in 2012-13.

As Gardiner's development continues and he irons out the wrinkles in his game, his ascension to stardom will be accelerated. As a surprising revelation during training camp who played his way into a top-four role, it is clear Gardiner has only scratched the surface of his potential.

Potential which will be re ...

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