NHL insider Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that general manager Ron Francis and Seattle Kraken captain Mark Giordano have explored a potential trade ahead of the league’s March 21st deadline. That such a discussion occurred is understandable given the Kraken’s pitiful place in the standings. Fortunately for the Kraken, Giordano remains productive (22 points in 47 games) and has been a respectable presence in defense. As Giordano’s departure slowly becoming all the more likely, here are four reasons why the Kraken should not hesitate to gauge the market for the veteran blueliner.
Western Conference Playoff Spot Out Of Reach
As of February 24th, the expansion franchise sits dead-last in the Pacific Division and 30th in the NHL overall. Their record of 16-33-4 (.340 points percentage) puts them on pace for 56 points, which would be the seventh-highest point total among expansion clubs in their inaugural season since 1992-93. Although few expected the Kraken to be world-beaters in their first campaign, jostling with the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens for the most favorable draft lottery odds could not have been what many had in mind.
They sit 25 points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final automatic playoff spot in the Pacific and 23 back of the Edmonton Oilers for the second wildcard slot. Seattle has played two more games than both of those teams (53 to 51), and they would have to almost run the table to close the gap by the end of the regular season. Things are not looking good for head coach Dave Hakstol, and it’s a big reason why Giordano should be moved at the deadline.
Giordano Not Part Of Kraken Future
On top of Seattle’s competitive missteps, Giordano’s age (he turns 39 in October) means that unless he pulls a Zdeno Chara and repels Father Time for another half-decade, he shouldn’t figure into the team’s long-term outlook. Seattle counts several defensemen age 25 and under on their books, and a few of those players could use the extra development time and opportunity afforded by a Giordano trade.
Vince Dunn (25 years old), Haydn Fleury (25), Jeremy Lauzon (24), and Cale Fleury (23) are all in the midst of or approaching their athletic prime and should be prioritized as the franchise moves forward. Dunn appears to be the one that Seattle is building around, given the contract he was awarded (two years at $4 million per year) and his ice time at both 5v5 and on the power play.
While Dunn has already eclipsed Giordano in his 5v5 usage, the veteran defenseman is still featuring more often with the man advantage. The extra minutes freed up by a Giordano trade could vault Dunn into a new productive stratosphere and position him as the team’s new offensive compass from the backend. I’ve been beating the Vince Dunn drum for some time now, and it looks like he’ll be able to spread his wings before the year is up.
Kraken Farm System Needs To Be Replenished
Although Seattle’s lack of prospect depth is understandable given that they just entered the league, it’s an underlying worry for an organization that doesn’t appear to be competitive in the short term. According to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic (subscription required), the Kraken own the 32nd-ranked farm system in the NHL. 2021 second-overall pick Matty Beniers of the University of Michigan is Seattle’s top-ranked prospect, but the drop-off in quality after him is considerable.
Apart from Giordano, the Kraken can dangle several other trade assets in a bid to pivot to the future. If they collect a top-five selection in this year’s draft and they find themselves near the bottom of the standings next season, the 2022 and 2023 drafts could set up the franchise extremely well for the back half of the decade. Shane Wright, Logan Cooley, Conor Bedard, and Matvei Michkov are four of the most heralded prospects awaiting bottom-feeding teams over the next two seasons, and the Kraken should position themselves to reap the benefits of their on-ice shortcomings.
Giordano Still Looking For First Stanley Cup
If none of the aforementioned arguments move the needle for you, consider that Giordano is still looking for the first Stanley Cup of his career. In fact, he has never advanced past the first round of the playoffs and can only count 23 total postseason games on his resume. That number is criminally low for a player set to play in his 1000th career regular-season game (currently at 996). So, who are the leading contenders to acquire Giordano?
For one, a return to the Calgary Flames could be in the cards as his old team is in the driver’s seat in the Pacific Division. Although their bottom pair of Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson has been surprisingly excellent (60% expected goals share at 5v5), adding Giordano could prove beneficial for a dark-horse Cup contender.
The Flames rank 11th in power-play efficiency (21.8%), a mark which could be improved by allowing Giordano to pilot the second unit. He’s fared well with Jamie Oleksiak on Seattle’s top pair (52% xG share), but he’d face much easier competition on Calgary’s third pair and likely continue to thrive in a less demanding role.
Calgary still owns their own 2023 first-round pick and could use a third team to double-retain on Giordano’s sizeable cap hit to fit his contract on the books. If the first-rounder is a non-starter, the Flames’ respectable prospect pool (rated 16th by Scott Wheeler) could be mined for assets. It almost seems like Giordano is destined to go back home, doesn’t it?
What Is Giordano’s Kraken Legacy?
Even as Giordano looks likely to leave the Kraken after only one solitary season, the impact he’s had in his short time in Seattle is immeasurable. He’s acted as the franchise’s inaugural team captain and offered his wisdom to much of the Kraken’s young players, especially those sharing his position. He’ll be remembered for embracing the new challenge proposed by leading an expansion franchise, and his presence will be felt through the assets gleaned from an eventual trade. It’s a shame that he won’t stay longer and that the Kraken haven’t achieved much on-ice success, but he’s made his mark on the city – that’s his legacy.