Mark Giordano has had a great career. He’ll surpass a thousand games this season if he stays healthy, and while his National Hockey League awards don’t include a Stanley Cup win, he does have a Norris Trophy and Mark Messier Leadership Award to his name. He’s shown that leadership on his new team, bringing a solid effort every night and contributing at both ends of the ice. But as the Seattle Kraken’s playoff hopes grow slimmer, his name has to enter the trade discussion.
Why move out the team captain?
Gio is a free agent at the end of the year. While the “C” sits on his chest, he’s only played 27 games in a Kraken uniform and there’s a more than reasonable chance he’ll sign somewhere else. At 38 years old, he doesn’t have a ton of runway left, and the allure of joining a contender in a depth role might be irresistible.
Rather than lose a good player for nothing, moving Giordano to such a team this season could help both sides. Defensive depth is always at a premium in the NHL Playoffs and the return could help a Kraken club that is sorely lacking depth. Giordano could make his run at a championship and still return to the Kraken in the offseason if Seattle is truly where he wants to finish his career.
Some Clear Positives
As mentioned above, Giordano will net more than most other players the Kraken might move on from. Depending on the market, a first round pick isn’t inconceivable as a return (though something like a 2nd and a 4th is more likely). A couples draft picks, or a prospect, would give the Kraken some sorely needed depth in the years to come, and every extra shot GM Ron Francis has in the draft is a chance at picking the next great NHL player.
Beyond the return, moving Giordano out will open up a top four position for someone younger. A number of depth d-men have shown, in small samples, that they are capable of doing more to help their team on the ice. A battle for a top four spot next pre-season will hopefully bring out the best in all the Kraken’s remaining defensemen.
... and Some Potential Negatives as Well
Trading your captain away is a pretty clear signal that the season is lost. That might be a foregone conclusion anyway, but with less than half the season gone one hopes there is still belief in the locker room. This transaction tells the remaining team members that they’re playing out the string. The losses could pile up, and the good will of the NHL’s newest fan base will be tested.
Giordano is also still a competent player. While he isn’t the same guy who recorded almost a point a game only a few years ago, he’s a cagey veteran who can still generally keep up with the play and produces points at a reasonable, if reduced, rate. His departure will create a hole that the team won’t be able to adequately fill this season, with no guarantee that next year would be any different.
For whatever the reason, Francis didn’t wheel and deal prior to the Expansion Draft. That decision leaves Seattle in a less fortuitous position, relative to the other recent expansion team in the Vegas Golden Knights, as they enter year two. Without an armload of draft capital, the team can’t swing the sort of trades that the Knights did to ensure their first season wasn’t just a Cinderella story. Moving out UFA’s at the deadline won’t fix that on its own, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Some Kraken fans no doubt own Giordano jerseys and there will be loud voices shouting that the trade is a mistake, but the reasonable majority will take a longer view, and while we all appreciate Giordano’s contributions to the inaugural season, saying goodbye might be the best for everyone.