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UPDATE: Not so fast. The Toronto Maple Leafs don't appear all that interested in promoting Jake Gardiner. Not at the moment, anyway.
As reported by the Toronto Sun, the Maple Leafs' head coach doesn't believe the young defenseman is quite there yet.
"It’s our job to make sure the timing is right and he is performing at a level where he is too good for the American Hockey League," Randy Carlyle said Wednesday. "And I have not heard anyone tell me he has. He has NHL-quality skills, he is going to play in the NHL. It’s just a matter of when."
"He played two games for our hockey club (in January) and we felt he was nowhere near what he needed to be," Carlyle said. "Jake needed seasoning in the American Hockey League, and when we feel it is time for him to come back, we are going to make that decision ... We are not going to be influenced by anybody other than the people who are doing the assessing and the people who are involved in the organization."
It's worth noting -- as pointed out by Terry Koshan -- that once Gardiner is back up with the Leafs, he won't likely return to the Marlies. The 22-year-old is only three NHL games short of the limit (80) requiring waivers to be returned to the minors.
Changes on defense are expected from the Toronto Maple Leafs soon. Specifically, we may see more Jake Gardiner and less Korbinian Holzer in the next while. But not because Gardiner's agent suggested his client should be, um, freed from the AHL.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Maple Leafs are considering promoting Gardiner and demoting Holzer in hopes of ending a three-game losing streak.
"In light of the Leafs skid, a simple swap NHL-AHL swap ... Holzer for Gardiner was being considered. Trade market for others isn't there yet."
Those "others" being John-Michael Liles and (maybe) Mike Komisarek.
Following the Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday, Gardiner's agent -- Ben Hankinson -- tweeted #FreeJakeGardiner. Not helpful. As you can imagine, the NHL club is likely none too thrilled with such chirpy interference. Yet to re-crack a Leafs' roster that already includes eight blueliners, Gardiner has 13 points in 18 games since re-joining the AHL Marlies Jan. 26.