EDINA, Minn. — Jake Gardiner is hungrier than ever to begin the upcoming NHL season.
The 32-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman missed the complete 2021-22 season after having hip and again surgical procedures. He last performed May 10, 2021.
Gardiner was cleared to return to play in early June and is collaborating in Da Beauty League, a 4-on-4 summer season hockey league for NHL, American Hockey League and NCAA Division I gamers dwelling in Minnesota.
“It was exhausting,” Gardiner stated Wednesday of the missed time. “I’ve labored my butt off and performed numerous remedies and rehabs and workouts to be able to get again.”
The Hurricanes will definitely welcome again the veteran of 10 NHL seasons, who has performed two seasons with Carolina after playing his first eight with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Barring something unexpected, he’ll come to camp and we’ll go from there,” Hurricanes basic supervisor Don Waddell stated on the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on July 7.
Gardiner has one season remaining on a four-year, $16.2 million contract ($4.05 common annual worth) he signed Sept. 6, 2019.
How Gardiner shall be used and who he’ll play with in 2022-23 shall be a giant query mark as a result of the Hurricanes have been aggressive in rebuilding their defensemen since he was injured.
The Hurricanes traded for a veteran defenseman Brent Burns on July 13, sending ahead Steven Lorentz, goalie prospect Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional third-round decide within the 2023 NHL Draft to the San Jose Sharks.
Burns received the Norris Trophy in 2016-17 because the NHL’s finest defenseman. The 37-year-old had 54 factors (10 objectives, 44 assists) in 82 regular-season video games last season and has 777 factors (227 objectives, 550 assists) in 1,251 video games with the Sharks and Minnesota Wild.
Burns will assist offset the lack of defenseman Tony DeAngelowho was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on July 8. DeAngelo had 51 factors (10 objectives, 41 assists) in 64 video games in his solely season with the Hurricanes, together with 20 factors (two objectives, 18 assists) on the facility play.
The Hurricanes additionally misplaced defensemen Ian Cole (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Brendan Smith (New Jersey Devils) in free company.
Last offseason, Carolina misplaced defenseman Dougie Hamilton whereas Gardiner was injured. Hamilton signed a seven-year contract with the New Jersey Devils following 2020-21 after scoring 42 factors (10 objectives, 32 assists) in 55 regular-season video games for the Hurricanes that season.
“We misplaced Tony DeAngelo, who was a giant power-play man for us,” stated the Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, who can be collaborating in Da Beauty League. “But I believe ‘Burnsy’ or [Gardiner] can fill that function immediately.
“We know what Jake brings to our workforce, and it is nice to get him again, however I believe having a man like Burns, who has had an unbelievable profession and may play some massive minutes for us, it may be actually enjoyable to see . I believe he will have a extremely good yr. He’s going to suit proper in with us.”
The Hurricanes have been busy this offseason after shedding within the second spherical of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season.
They additionally added ahead Max Pacioretty in a commerce with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 13. Pacioretty had 37 factors (19 objectives, 18 assists) in 39 regular-season video games last season. In the eight earlier seasons, he averaged 29 objectives per season.
They misplaced top-six forwards Nino Niederreiter (Nashville Predators) and Vincent Trocheck (New York Rangers) in free company, but Skjei and Gardiner stated they imagine Hurricanes stay a contender for the Stanley Cup.
“We’ve gotten fairly dang shut however have not gotten there but,” Gardiner stated. “And I believe we’ve a extremely good workforce, it is only a matter of executing.”