Free Jake Gardiner? Or free John Michael Liles?

Gardiner’s agent, Ben Hankinson, attracted plenty of attention Tuesday evening after he tweeted a single hashtag, “#FreeJakeGardiner,” following the Toronto Maple Leafs loss in Winnipeg.

It was, seemingly, a non caustic retort to his client’s situation — and very likely, an assertion of how his client could help the Leafs’ current situation with their own zone coverage.

Gardiner is obviously spinning his wheels with the Marlies, at least Hankinson believes so. The talented 21-year-old has 30 points in 40 games and is clearly primed for a return to the NHL with the Leafs.

“That’s my agent’s opinion, I’m just trying to work hard to get back into the NHL,” Gardiner said at the Marlies morning skate Wednesday.

The Leafs, despite some cracks in their defensive play during a season high, three-game winless streak, currently dress eight NHL serviceable defencemen, including Liles, who hasn’t played in a dozen games.

There is a simple log jam, an abundance of blueliners, and it’s holding back Gardiner. That same log jam is holding back Liles as well, but there is an air of expectancy at Wednesday’s midday practice that something is going to give on the blue line.

With the Leafs set to take the ice at 12:30 at the Air Canada Centre, one of those “freedom”-seeking defencemen just may see their NHL ice time restored.

Toronto has given up four goals or more in each of its losses; it may be time for either Gardiner or Liles — both puck-moving defencemen — to return to the lineup in advance of Thursday’s home game against the Penguins.

If a move is made, it will come at a cost.