The 22 year-old forward is still considered a rookie by AHL standards. If his debut this season brought on feelings of déjà vu, it was for good reason.
Gardiner has been through this before. After impressing with his two-way play in Pittsburgh's rookie tournament in London, Ontario in September 2016, he signed an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2016-17 season.
After 23 games and only six points, Gardiner's first professional season ended as he was returned to his junior team, the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. When I spoke to him about his journey back in November, he told me that the decision was mutual.