Top Trades, Landing Spots for Seattle Kraken Captain Mark GiordanoJanuary 28, 2022
Top Trades, Landing Spots for Seattle Kraken Captain Mark Giordano
Actual difference-makers are a rare commodity at the NHL trade deadline. Some years, the crop of players available is headlined by a depth defenseman or a third-line center. That won't be the case in 2021-22, as there are a few skaters who could make a major impact.
Perhaps the gem of this season's deadline is Mark Giordano. For any contending team looking to shore things up in their own end and in transition, the Seattle Kraken defenseman has to be a primary target.
The asking price on him will certainly be high. Kraken general manager Ron Francis needs to leverage his assets to continue building Seattle toward contention, and maximizing the return for Giordano is crucial for the organization's future.
Still, the veteran defender is the kind of skater who could put a team over the top. If a rival GM thinks his team is one defenseman away from making a real run, is a first-round pick, third-round selection and a mid-level prospect too much to trade away?
Probably not. Not if the hope is that the deal leads to a new banner in the rafters and a parade this summer.
There are a few teams that could use Giordano's skill set and leadership. Here's where we think he could end up ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.
Let's get the most obvious destination out of the way first.
Giordano became the heart and soul of the Calgary Flames during his 15-year career there and would provide a massive emotional boost to a team that needs a few more pieces to contend with the Western Conference's top dogs.
Calgary has come together wonderfully under head coach Darryl Sutter—a Jack Adams front-runner if you ask us—and there's no question that Giordano would be a fit here. His offensive numbers have dipped a bit in Seattle, but the Kraken rank 25th in average goals scored per game, so that is to be expected.
Meanwhile, the Flames have a top-10 offense and give up the seventh-fewest shots per game. Adding Giordano to the left side of the defense would be a boon for both the player and team. He wouldn't have to continue playing top-line minutes every night, and a slightly more sheltered offensive role for Gio would help boost his impact even more.
Regardless of where Sutter decided to slot the 38-year-old, it would make a ton of sense for the Flames to go out and reacquire their old captain. And how motivated would this group be to win a Stanley Cup for Giordano?
That effect alone might be worth the picks and prospects.
This might be the year for the Florida Panthers. When healthy, they are an offensive juggernaut, seemingly scoring at will and ruining opposing goalies' save percentages on a nightly basis. They have a tremendous amount of depth at forward, and they attack in swarms.
Only the equally stacked Colorado Avalanche score more goals on average than Florida (4.02 per game), and no one takes more shots on goal than them. They also have the highest shooting percentage by a wide margin.
We all know what happens during the playoffs, though. Goals are tougher to come by as teams tighten up defensively and referees put away their whistles. That's why it made sense when George Richards of Florida Hockey Now reported the team will look to upgrade on the blue line ahead of the trade deadline.
Giordano will likely be the best defender available and would make the Panthers even more dangerous as a transitional team. They already storm the neutral and offensive zones with vigor, and the veteran would be another defender capable of moving the puck up ice quickly.
He'd be a perfect fit, but Florida might not have enough futures to entice Seattle. The Panthers are already without their first two picks in the 2022 draft, and it's unclear if the Kraken would be interested in 2023 selections. Would 2021 second-round pick Evan Nause or 2020 fourth-round selection Michael Benning be enough to move the needle?
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Boston Bruins are one of a handful of teams in on Arizona Coyotes defender Jakob Chychrun. Giordano would be a significantly different option for the B's, but if they strike out on Chychrun and are still looking for help on the blue line, they could circle back to talk with the Kraken about their top rental.
Chychrun would be more of a long-term solution for Boston, but with so much competition for his services, it might behoove the Bruins to have a Plan B. And there are much worse alternative plans out there than Giordano. His compete level is through the roof, and he's a fit with the Bruins from a philosophical standpoint.
He'd also be joining a group of veterans who are attempting to keep their Stanley Cup window open before they begin their inevitable decline because of age. Seattle might be interested in giving Jake DeBrusk the change of scenery that he desires, but that kind of trade would carry some risk for the Kraken.
Still, getting a smooth-skating 25-year-old roster player as opposed to a B-level prospect or late first-round pick might be enticing for Francis and Co. The Bruins would likely have to give up more than just DeBrusk, but he could be a starting point for a deal.
It's not the likeliest of landing spots, but it's still something that appears to be possible if the Bruins end up desperate to add to their blue line this year. Again, this group might only have one or two more cracks at another ring before it's time to retool in Boston.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set at forward. They have a ton of money tied up in their top six but are a bit lackluster on the back end. That has general manager Kyle Dubas looking to upgrade on the back end, based on various reports.
The team has been connected to Montreal Canadiens defender Ben Chiarot, and The Fourth Period recently reported that Toronto will be looking to add a defenseman ahead of the trade deadline. That report specifically noted the "Maple Leafs are believed to be willing to part with their 2022 or 2023 first-round draft pick in a trade for an immediate upgrade."
Dubas would need to get creative to fit Giordano in under the cap, but if he's looking for a difference-maker on the back end, the Kraken captain could be a fit. It seems like Toronto wants to add more of a physical presence to its blue line, so Giordano might not click in that regard.
But he plays a strong possession game, even on a Seattle team that tends to chase play more than drive it. He could be a stellar addition to a power play that is already lethal and would help steady the team's top four, even if he wouldn't be running people over while doing it.
The Maple Leafs want to add talent on defense and are willing to part with the kinds of assets the Kraken will likely be looking for. There might be a fit here, even though it'd be strange to see Giordano in a Leafs sweater.
New York Rangers
All signs are pointing to the New York Rangers being aggressive over the next several weeks as they gear up for their playoff run. They've been one of the bigger surprises in the NHL this season, taking a big step forward after finishing fifth in the "East Division" last year and seventh in the Metropolitan Division in 2019-20.
They are battling for the top spot in both the Metro and the Eastern Conference on the whole right now, and general manager Chris Drury continues to scour the trade circuit for talent. New York's third pair has been a weakness for the team all year long, with head coach Gerard Gallant trying serval combinations that haven't worked out.
Giordano could slot onto that third unit, and suddenly the Blueshirts would have a strength there. It likely wouldn't be the minutes he's used to playing—he hasn't averaged fewer than 20 minutes a night since 2009—but the opportunity to chase the Stanley Cup would likely be worth taking on a slightly reduced role in New York.
The Rangers have their own first-round selection this year, plus their own second-round pick and the St. Louis Blues' second-rounder from the Samuel Blais deal. So the draft capital is in place for New York to make a push for Giordano if Drury believes he'd be enough to put the club over the top in the East.
St. Louis Blues
Analysts seem to be sleeping on the St. Louis Blues a bit this season. They have the third-best points percentage in the Central Division and Western Conference all together, looking up at only the mighty Avalanche and high-octane Minnesota Wild.
Some pundits, including Bleedin' Blue's Jason Martin, believe the Blues should be looking to add a defenseman before March 21, specifically seeing some possible trades between Seattle and St. Louis.
Giordano would give the potential Cup contenders another offensive-minded blueliner to go along with a group that already includes Torey Krug and Justin Faulk. He could play on either the first or third pair while also being another weapon for the league's third-best power play.
The Blues have some contracts on the books that aren't going to age particularly well. Things might not get as ugly as they are for the San Jose Sharks, but there has to be a little bit of motivation to take a swing at another Stanley Cup now while the likes of Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad are still competent third-liners and Vladimir Tarasenko is still in town.
St. Louis doesn't have its own second-round pick this year but could still dangle its first or possibly look to push that pick back to 2023 so as to not miss the whole two first rounds in 2022. The Blues might not be willing to part with top defensive prospect Scott Perunovich for Giordano, but perhaps someone such as Matthew Kessel—along with a few picks—would be enough for the Kraken.
All statistics are courtesy of NHL.com and StatHead.com, while cap information is courtesy of CapFriendly.com and is accurate through games played on Jan. 26.