In order to make an educated guess at the value of Jake Gardiner's next contract, comparable players on comparable types of contracts are always the place to start. Here is a list of young defenders who have signed a second contract in this season or last and who are still under the age of 25:
|Name||Team||Age at time of signing||First Contract Year||GP Before Contract||Points Before Contract||TOI Before Contract (Mins.)||ATOI Before Contract (Mins.)||New Cap Hit||Length of contract|
|Slava Voynov||Los Angeles||23||2012-13||102||45||2071||20.30||$4.17M*||6|
|Alex Pietrangelo||St. Louis||23||2012-13||224||121||5203||23.23||$6.5M||7|
|Victor Hedman||Tampa Bay||21||2012-13||214||69||4611||21.55||$4M||5|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||St. Louis||24||2013-14||201||109||4201||20.90||$4.25M||4|
By the looks of the comparables above, Gardiner probably winds up with about $4M per season, and probably a 4-5 year deal, which I would quite frankly be fine with. If Dave "RFA Master" Nonis can talk him down any further, that's gravy, but I don't honestly see how.
The dollar figure seems to be more or less set at $4M, with the likes of Roman Josi, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Victor Hedman, Slava Voynov, and John Carlson all getting about the same cap hit. The real variance comes with how long the team wants to lock in to a player and how many years of free agency they'd like to eat up.
The Predators, who are a team with an internal cap, committed to a guy they'd seen play 100 NHL games for 7 YEARS. You just know that Josi's deal is going to come up in any negotiation for a defenceman's second contract. I mean, really, it's not like the kid even has a stupid reason to get paid like "draft pedigree" (he was a 2nd rounder) or a label like "being a proven winner". But hey, I guess they're not so worried about his third deal.
The only two players who got shorter "bridge" deals were Nick Leddy and T.J. Brodie, but I'd be surprised if Gardiner is looking for such a short-term deal. The money from the new Canadian TV deal will already have kicked in, and although the cap is likely to rise, it's probably not going to spike in a big way, either. In other words, Gardiner is unlikely to get much more money later.
It's hard to see, given the precedence we've seen, how Gardiner gets less than 4-5 years, but again, GMs sometimes do crazy things.