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January 30, 2014 | 12:40pm ET
Benefits of keeping Gardiner

Trade rumors are continuing to swirl around the future of 23-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen Jake Gardiner.

Earlier this season, it was widely speculated that Gardiner would play a part in a trade by the club, possibly in exchange for a center.

With the March 5 trade deadline a little more than a month away, speculation surrounding Gardiner is starting to heat up once again.

Inconsistency seen in Gardiner's game is often attributed to his youth. John Shannon of Sportsnet's Hockey Central has argued that the Leafs need to better understand the kind of game Gardiner plays and utilize him appropriately.

Shannon also states that moving the defensemen could be a higher risk than a reward for the club as he has potential to further develop his game.

Gardiner's cap hit of $870,000 also isn't seen as a constraint on the Leafs in terms of managing their cap. Gardiner will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Minnesota native has been paired with rookie Morgan Riley throughout the season, accumulating five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. Gardiner currently owns a minus-3 rating.

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