The “NHL Talk” column is your daily go-to for the best hockey topics with quotes from your favourite THW writers. Listen to the THW Podcast, available on iHeartRadio and wherever you listen to podcasts, every weekday (Monday to Friday).
In this edition of NHL Talk, the Seattle Kraken could move a big name at this year’s trade deadline, New York Rangers’ goaltender Igor Shesterkin picks up where he left off after returning from COVID-19 protocols, and the Vancouver Canucks make a push for the playoffs under new head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Kraken Might Consider Trading Captain Giordano at Trade Deadline
Kraken captain Mark Giordano is putting together a solid season, with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 30 games. Seattle sits 29th in the NHL and last place in the Pacific Division, indicating that it is likely to be a seller at the upcoming trade deadline. With Giordano’s contract expiring at the end of the season, making him an unrestricted free agent, it is possible the Kraken could look into moving its first captain in franchise history.
“I think that Mark Giordano could be going back to Calgary,” says THW’s Sean Raggio. “On Nov. 17, The Hockey Writers’ Rob Couch wrote an article saying that Calgary should bring him back. He’s [an unrestricted free agent]. He’s getting up there in age, so he might have one or two kicks at the can left. And if that’s the case, I definitely think he should exercise his right, his ability to be moved.”
Giordano formerly played 14 full seasons with the Flames, serving as team captain for eight years, before he was selected by the Kraken at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
“[The Kraken] need to be bringing back draft picks or, if it’s going to be a prospect, it has to be a very enticing prospect right now,” says Raggio. “They should be bringing in draft capital and this prospect has to knock your socks off, to be completely honest with you.”
The Kraken carry a measly 10-22-4 record this season, and it seems like many players, including captain Giordano, could be on the table for a potential trade. The team will likely try to go big in free agency this offseason, and will look to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft to help build its future.
Rangers’ Shesterkin Returns From COVID-19 Protocols, Posts Shutout
Rangers goaltender Shesterkin has been nothing short of stellar this season. With a .939 save percentage (SV%) and 1.99 goals-against average (GAA) across 22 games and 21 starts, the 26-year-old is claiming the Rangers’ crease as his own. In his last game before entering COVID-19 protocols, he posted a 38-save shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 2. Returning to the team on Thursday, he got right back to work, suiting up for a 37-save shutout against the San Jose Sharks.
“Henrik [Lundqvist] was the king, and Igor is the prince,” says Raggio.
Prior to Thursday’s shutout performance by Shesterkin, Raggio said, “[Shesterkin’s return] is going to give them a jolt and they could come out flying tonight.”
Raggio was right in his prediction, as the Rangers took down the Sharks, 3-0, on the road. With Shesterkin back in the Rangers’ crease, the optimism surrounding the organization continues to grow. The Rangers are third in the NHL and first in the Metropolitan Division, and seem to be a lock for the postseason this year.
Canucks Are Pushing for a Playoff Spot Under New Head Coach Boudreau
Since the Canucks hired Bruce Boudreau as its newest head coach, the team carries an impressive 9-2-1 record, only losing regulation games to the Florida Panthers and Lightning. After a rocky start to the season, Vancouver now has its eyes set on competing for a playoff spot. The Canucks are six points back of a wild card spot in a tightly-contested Pacific Division race.
“I love Boudreau’s style of hockey, and even in that Panthers game (a 5-2 Canucks loss on Tuesday), they looked really good even at times when the score didn’t say they did,” says THW’s Matthew Zator. “But, they still looked like they were fighting. They still look like a team.”
The Canucks dropped a second game in a row, falling to the Lighting, 4-2, on Friday, but are playing one of its hardest road trips this season.
“I looked at the record of all the teams that are playing up on this road trip,” says Zator. “It’s insane what these teams are. Their record is like almost a hundred wins between all of them. It’s going to be a tough road to the playoffs and this road trip is going to really test their mettle.”
Vancouver will visit the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators before heading home to take on the Panthers again on Jan. 21.
“They still need some stuff to go right for them to to make the playoffs, but they’re definitely back in it.”
Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Talk, and make sure to listen to the THW Podcast to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.
Tom Pepper hosts The Hockey Writers Podcast on iHeartRadio and wherever you listen to podcasts, every weekday (Monday to Friday). He also writes the “NHL Talk” and “NHL Sound Bites” columns. He is a diehard Buffalo Sabres fan in Toronto, frequently driving the Queen Elizabeth Way to cheer on his team at KeyBank Center.