Dreger said that Toronto isn't ready to move Gardiner, 23, and that Dave Nonis and the Leafs "aren't ready to push Gardiner out. They still see the upside."
Gardiner, 23, was a teammate at Wisconsin for two seasons with Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan.
He was a first round pick of Anaheim in 2008, 3 picks ahead of Del Zotto, and is an RFA at the end of this season.
Gardiner has played in 111 NHL games and has 7 goals and 32 assists.
Adam Rotter: When it comes to likely moves for Del Zotto, I think the offseason is more likely and that he could be moved for a similar type of defenseman who has NHL experience but hasn't totally found his footing. Gardiner is that exact kind of player. Del Zotto is ahead of him in terms of NHL experience and is one contract ahead of him, he will cost more against the cap than Gardiner will, but its an idea that would swap talented players who might find success in new situations. Del Zotto would return to Toronto, where he is from, and Gardiner would get a chance to play with his "closest hockey friends" in Stepan and McDonagh. If neither player is moved during the season I could see this being revisited at the draft.