It took some time and there was a long delay after the first reports surfaced, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have made their move. While teams like the Florida Panthers got better with the additions of Ben Chiarot and Claude Giroux, and the Tampa Bay Lightning added Brandon Hagel, Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas had been relatively quiet. The expectation was that he had eyes on a defenseman and possibly a goaltender, but the move to acquire a defenseman came first… kind of.
A deal that was first broken by Ryan Leslie of Sportsnet, and quickly followed up by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Maple Leafs have traded for Mark Giordano of the Seattle Kraken. It took some time for the trade to be made official thanks to complications with waivers and the salary cap, but as the details came down, the return going back to Seattle was the Maple Leafs’ two second-rounders and a third-round pick. Toronto gets Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell, while Seattle retains 50% of Giordano’s salary.
Giordano Wanted the Maple Leafs
When it was determined that Seattle was going to be selling off assets at this year’s deadline, the big-name player most expected to move was Giordano. He was selected as part of the NHL Expansion Draft but was in the final year of a long-term deal. A pending UFA, he was going to be someone the Kraken could acquire assets for.
Both Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek reported that the Maple Leafs had made Giordano their primary target but the Maple Leafs weren’t willing to move a first-round pick to get the deal done. Seattle wanted a first but a couple of seconds was also among the believable offers the Leafs might have made and something the Kraken would have considered in a potential deal. All the while, Giordano wanted to come home to Toronto and play for the Maple Leafs.
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Giordano is from Toronto, he’s got a ton of familiarity with the city and he knows a few of the players now on the roster, including T.J. Brodie, who it is expected he’ll slot in with on the Leafs’ second pair. He’s not necessarily a top-pairing guy, but he’s registered 23 points in 55 games this season and could fit in well, eating big minutes in the Leafs’ top four.
The Maple Leafs Were Setting This Deal Up Sunday
In the early afternoon on Sunday, the Leafs started making moves that suggested they had something going on. Goaltender Petr Mrazek was placed on waivers, as was Kyle Clifford. When they signed former NHL goaltender and 2022 Olympic champion Harri Sateri for the remainder of the season, it meant the team was trying to free up money and going after a different goalie, or they had something else cooking.
The question was how the Leafs would get this deal done. With little money, could they get a third team involved? David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reports it didn’t sound like a third team was part of the deal but that Seattle would be retaining a portion of his $6.75 million cap hit. It took a couple of hours after the rumblings of a trade first surfaced, with Pierre LeBrun noting, “I think the delay has to do with having to wait until 5 pm ET from a Leafs’ cap/roster perspective and Mrazek being on waivers.”
Giordano Will Help the Maple Leafs
The veteran defenseman is good at shutting down the cycle, often wins battles in the defensive zone, and rarely turns the puck over. He’s got a good first pass and a ton of experience, including in the playoffs where he’s played 23 games.
Emily Kaplan is reporting that he will keep an open mind about his future. He’s looking for a chance to chase a Stanley Cup this spring and at 38 years old, the pending UFA will likely sign a short-term deal with a team that gives him the best chance to win. Could that be Toronto? Time will tell.