As the Seattle Kraken keep losing games, talk of reuniting captain Mark Giordano with his long-time team continues to heat up. The Calgary Flames are in the hunt for a Western Conference wild-card spot, and bringing back their second-longest tenured captain could bring them a boost both in terms of on-ice play, and emotionally.
As it stands, it doesn’t appear that the Kraken have any realistic shot at a playoff spot. We won’t encourage “tanking,” but they’re at a point where they should be looking to acquire assets and setting their focus to the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. While the Kraken may have to take back or retain salary to help make the deal work, it would just be for this season, and they have the cap space to do so. Giordano’s agent Ritch Winter thinks it’s possible, and Calgary isn’t on his 10-team no-trade list.
The Kraken have a slew of forwards heading to either restricted or unrestricted free agency this offseason, but just three defensemen; Giordano being the lone unrestricted free agent (UFA). Jeremy Lauzon and Haydn Fleury are the two restricted free agents (RFA).
In terms of draft capital, the Kraken have all their picks, plus already having the Flames’ fourth-round pick due to the Tyler Pitlick deal. The teams have done business before, which is a promising sign. They also have a 2023 Winnipeg Jets second-round pick and Colorado Avalanche fourth-round pick. It’s a good start, but they could look to try and get even more in return for their captain.
Kraken Should Move Giordano Before End of Season
Giordano is going on 39 years old, and while his point production has dropped off, his 54.3 Corsi-for percentage (CF%) so far this season is his best since winning his Norris Trophy for the 2018-19 season. While he intends to play until no one wants him anymore, it’s not likely he’ll want to play for a lottery team. He’s only seen the playoffs four times and just once made it past the first round.
The Kraken need to maximize their draft potential over the next few seasons. The Flames have just five picks in the 2022 draft and three in the first two rounds. It may be difficult for them to part ways with a pick, especially if their brass has doubts about reaching the playoffs.
However, Seattle is in a position where it has cap space and roster space to where the Flames can move out upcoming free agents who they don’t plan on bringing back in order to get some value back for them. In addition, they have forwards on relatively inexpensive deals, some with term and some upcoming free agents, who may help provide secondary scoring for the Flames, such as Joonas Donskoi and Calle Jarnkrok.
Packaging Giordano with a forward could lead to a favorable return, even more so if the forward traded has term. If the Kraken take in players, they could eventually be flipped for more draft capital down the line as we approach the trade deadline.
Flames Get Stability, Emotional Boost With Giordano
Things are getting interesting in Calgary, and Giordano may bring some stability. The Flames haven’t been as hot as they started out and currently are on the outside looking in for a wild-card spot. This offseason, they’ll have eight roster players, including leading-scorer Johnny Gaudreau, become UFA. They’ll also have three RFAs in Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington.
The salary cap isn’t set to rise to a point where the Flames can avoid trouble, as several of their free agents are going to be looking at pay raises. This may be the last shot at the Cup for the core of this team as it sits.
In addition, their third defensive pair has raised question marks. As THW’s Greg Tysowski wrote, “New addition Erik Gudbranson had a decent start to his tenure in Calgary, but his game has seen some regression in recent weeks. Meanwhile, his partner Nikita Zadorov has been a huge disappointment…” While the article as a whole is about why the Flames should not trade for Giordano, defense wins championships, as they say.
Their goaltending has been dependable, but secondary scoring and that bottom pair is the issue. If the Kraken could build the right trade package with Giordano and a forward, it may entice the Flames to bring him back and could get the Kraken either a higher draft pick or more picks in return.
Giordano’s New Role With the Flames
Giordano was a heart-and-soul, top-pair defenseman in Calgary for a long, long time. He would need to be willing to accept a smaller role than he was used to, and that he currently holds in Seattle, upon a trade back home. However, he just may be willing to do that. According to his wife Lauren, the Stanley Cup is his singular focus.
“And although he won’t say it publicly, those closest to Giordano say that there remains unfinished business with Calgary, too. It’s the franchise that gave him a chance to live his dream and a city that became a home to his young family”
From “‘Always the underdog’: Mark Giordano is showing the Kraken, the NHL (and the Flames) he has more to give” by Dan Robson and Hailey Salvian, The Athletic, Dec. 1, 2021.
He would provide stability to that Flames bottom pair, and he could even open up the opportunity to move out other UFA pieces that may not be part of general manager Brad Treliving’s future plans. It’s always better to bring in assets for free agents rather than just letting them walk. He’ll bring an emotional boost to not just the team but to a fanbase that has seen their team go 2-7-1 in its last 10 games after starting the year 6-1-3 in its first 10.
Trading Giordano could be one step on the road to helping build the Kraken into a future contender. These next two drafts are instrumental for the Kraken to be able to put together a competitive hockey team sometime in the next five seasons. Giordano has fought for everything he’s achieved throughout his career. He’s been dependable, a leader. He’s UFA after this season, and if the Kraken aren’t going to be contenders, he deserves a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.