Despite the slide as of late, the Calgary Flames look like a much-improved team this season in Darryl Sutter. They are playing a good defensive style of hockey with a flair for the offence. This is backed by early Vezina Trophy Candidate Jacob Markstrom.
On the other end, the Seattle Kraken have struggled out of the gate all around. The aspect of their game that was projected to be their saving grace has been a disaster. Mark Giordano is an expiring unrestricted free agent (UFA), a great leader, and still very capable on the back-end. The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin suggests that Giordano could be moved, and possibly to Calgary, so it is odd why they named him captain. Teams will be lining up for him this season if Seattle doesn’t show any signs of competing in their first season. They have more than enough cap space to accommodate a trade if they were to get another asset back in return.
The Kraken have other leaders the team can turn to if their first-ever captain is traded during this season. We didn’t even know if he would be returning to the team after this season anyway. As for the defence, it was a huge talking point as to who would make the team out of training camp of their many young defencemen that were fighting for spots.
Names like Jeremy Lauzon and Will Borgen would have more of a shot as they would then be able to get top-six minutes and not fight for the seventh defensive spot on the roster. This would do well for the Kraken in the long run in getting their youth more playing time and ready for life after Giordano when they may be counted on to step up.
Moves the Flames Will Have to Make on Defence
Included in the deal back to the Kraken could include either Nikita Zadorov or Erik Gudbranson. Giordano doesn’t have to play the minutes he’s used to with other Flames’ defencemen stepping up in his absence and adjusting to the fact that he wasn’t playing for their team anymore.
Currently rostering eight defencemen, that will have to change in some capacity. If this deal happens, the Flames already know they will have to work the cap by having Seattle retain some of Giordano’s salary and maybe not having a full 23-man roster.
I would expect the team to send Juuso Valimaki down to the American Hockey League, as he has only gotten into seven games as it is before acquiring a defenceman that would pass him in the depth charts. They always have next season where he should compete for full-time NHL minutes.
Michael Stone becomes more expendable than he is right now. He has dressed for one game this season, he is a UFA at the end of the season, and is making the NHL minimum $750k.
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Giordano would slot in on the second or third pairing and the Flames have the ability to work around fitting him in. He would bring a veteran presence back to the team. If he comes in and plays on the second pairing, he lines up beside Chris Tanev with the option of swapping Rasmus Andersson and Tanev to create a different look. If the Flames don’t like that, they could always shore up their depth immensely and have Giordano play on the left side of the third pairing. Whatever move they make, Zadorov can play both sides and Gudbranson is a right defenceman.
Giordano Brings Experience and Familiarity to Calgary
The Flames would be bringing back a beloved player that everyone was sad to see left exposed and drafted in the expansion draft. Though it did allow them to sign a couple of players to replace the cap of just one, they must feel like they are in their window to compete right now.
Giordano was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Flames and played 14 full seasons for them and captain for eight. The Flames would not be shy about welcoming a reunion of one of the best players in franchise history.
He has played the second-most games in Flames’ franchise history with 949, ranks fifth in assists with 366, and seventh in points with 509. Current Flame Johnny Gaudreau just passed his points mark with 510.
Giordano is known as a great two-way defenceman, shown by his seven 10-plus goals seasons, five 40-plus points seasons, and is also the franchise leader in hits (1013) and blocked shots (1746). He hasn’t slowed down much this season on a team that has struggled so far, recording three goals, seven points, and over a block per game in 15 games with the Kraken.
We may see this deal go down a little closer to the trade deadline, but the Flames should definitely consider bringing back one of the franchise’s all-time greats for one last kick at the can. They have the personnel and ability to reach another level, and the team has already shown they can dominate games early on.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.