Another beloved Toronto athlete is officially leaving the 6ix. Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner has officially signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The U.S. hockey franchise announced that had sign Gardiner to a four-year contract via Twitter this Friday. The 29-year-old’s contract has an annual value of $4.05 million.
Despite being an unrestricted free agent for since July, Gardiner never closed the door to his former team, giving the Leafs plenty of time to re-sign him. However, according to the Toronto Sun, it became apparent that the team was too caught up in Mitch Marner’s fees to offer the player anything substantial.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are stoked to have Gardiner on their roster. “Jake is a solid veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play,” Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said to SportsNet.
The #Canes have signed Jake Gardiner to a four-year contract More Info » https://t.co/sp8U5mzQvu https://t.co/PILPBvhKgi— Carolina Hurricanes (@Carolina Hurricanes)1567790636.0
“He’s had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we’re thrilled to have him here,” he added.
Toronto fans were quick to pay tribute to the Leafs veteran, thanking him for his time with the city's NHL team. Even Doug Ford will miss him.
Thank you @Jgardiner272, we'll miss you in Leafs Nation! https://t.co/eIjbBFP8Eh— Doug Ford (@Doug Ford)1567793488.0
@MapleLeafs https://t.co/rNOjs2I5mf— Michael (@Michael)1567793295.0
@MapleLeafs https://t.co/YkBkrEhYj5— Michael Joubran (@Michael Joubran)1567793213.0
@MapleLeafs You’ll always be a Leaf jake. Screw the media and asinine fans.— B.A (@B.A)1567793275.0
@MapleLeafs https://t.co/mzLCF3rWld— Lenny (@Lenny)1567793521.0
@MapleLeafs Never got the credit he deserved .. @CanesNHL going to enjoy it— Ian (@Ian)1567795139.0
@MapleLeafs It's sad to see so many good and/or popular players leave this offseason and Jake is the next to go. I… https://t.co/0FMNk8BJ96— Roderick (@Roderick)1567793283.0
@MapleLeafs Thanks Jake for everything enjoy your 4 years in Carolina— Ⓜ️🅰️štêr🅿️ℹ️🅿️ (@Ⓜ️🅰️štêr🅿️ℹ️🅿️)1567793244.0
Gardiner himself has been pretty quiet about the deal. However, he did take to Instagram this Friday to share that his son, Henry, was loving his new digs Carolina digs:
Gardiner is fresh off of a 30-point season with the Leafs in which he played 62 regular-season games. He was out of commission between late February and early April due to a back injury.
Gardiner was traded to the Leafs from Anaheim, becoming a first-round pick back in 2008.