Giordano is the best defenseman on our team and one of the best in the league.Darryl Sutter, Head Coach, Calgary Flames
Sad Night in Cowtown
The former Norris Trophy winner has never dressed in anything other than the Flaming C during the 949 games he has played in the league. The heart and soul of the Flames, he was loved in the Stampede City as if he were a native son. He captained the Flames for the last eight years following the retirement of former long-time captain Jarome Iginla.
Although Giordano’s departure will surely hurt the team, few felt Flames general manager (GM) Brad Treliving had any choice but to expose the aging star to the grasping tentacles of the hungry Kraken. The future of the Flames’ blue line forced him to protect Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson and that meant choosing between Giordano and Chris Tanev since teams are only allowed to protect three blueliners under expansion draft rules.
With a cap hit of only $4.5 million next year, the 31-year old Tanev was simply better value for the Flames when compared to the older captain’s salary of $6.75 million. Tanev clearly established himself as the Flames’ top defenceman this year as Giordano continued his inexorable decline from his Norris Trophy-winning year in the 2018-19 season.
It is likely that Treliving tried to shop Giordano around to avoid losing him to Seattle for nothing. That would have been all but impossible since very few teams would have had the cap space to take on the aging warhorse.
What Giordano Brings to Seattle
Kraken GM Ron Francis is probably thanking the hockey gods for his good fortune in coming across a player of Giordano’s caliber exposed in the draft. While the gritty defender never again equaled the performance that won him a Norris, he put up respectable numbers this past season scoring nine goals, notching 17 assists and logging the most ice time of any Flames skater.
In Giordano Seattle has also acquired a role model for their younger players. As Sutter put it, “there’s a lot of nights you could take his game and use it as a clinic for younger players to learn from”.
He is also a proven leader in the dressing room. Andersson perhaps summed it up best saying, “He’s one of the best D in the league . . . His work ethic, how good he is every night. It’s not just every other night. It’s every night we play. He’s our leader; he’s our captain. Every person in here learns a lot from him.”
Yet Giordano could be more than a leader and mentor in Seattle. He has the potential to become the face of the new franchise with the character and determination he brings to every game.
Yet even if Francis doesn’t see a role for Giordano in Seattle next year, he still has value to the franchise in their efforts to build over the long-term. Several pundits speculate that Giordano may not even set foot in Seattle this year if Francis decides to eat some of his salary and flip him to another franchise for a combination of roster players, picks and prospects.
Any way Seattle looks at Giordano, he is a winning investment for the club. Treliving had no choice but to give him up and Francis had no choice but to take him.
Flames Exposed But Unchosen
A bruising left winger, Lucic waived his no movement clause (NMC) to allow the Flames to protect more players in the expansion draft.
In dispensing with his NMC, Lucic was selfless, but probably reckoned that the odds of the Kraken wrapping their tentacles around him were low given his age, waning performance and rich $6 million cap hit. He was right.
Some Calgary fans were clinging to the fantasy the Kraken would find Giordano’s valuation too rich and instead opt to pick up the young Swedish defender at the bargain price of $787,500.
Whatever stopped the Flames from giving the 23-year old a regular spot in the lineup this season seems to have given Francis reason to pass him over – even as expensive and old as Giordano is.
Ryan becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 28th and if the Kraken really wanted the aging centreman they could probably pick him up for much less than the $3.125 million annual salary he earned in Calgary. Why would Seattle waste their Calgary draft pick on Ryan?
Many Cowtown fans clung to the fanciful hope that the veteran of six NHL seasons would be chosen over Giordano because the Marketing Department in Seattle could use a native born son (Ryan was born in Spokane) to generate excitement around the Kraken. That could be a tall order in large swathes of the state of Washington where 5-pin bowling probably gets higher TV ratings than hockey.
Paul covers the Calgary Flames, the Ottawa Senators and the OHL’s Ottawa 67s for The Hockey Writers (THW). He also hosts the Flames Faceoff show for THW’s Podcast Network.
Paul has been sought for media interviews for the thoughtful pieces he has written on hockey’s response to the major social and political issues of the day including the place of gay players in the game. Paul is also known for his interesting perspectives on the key issues and challenges facing the teams he follows.
Of his work with THW, Paul says, “I love to tell stories about the game of hockey and the personalities – both past and present, who have made it the greatest game on the planet!”
Follow him on Twitter at @pquinney