What the Leafs could offer in a potential Mark Giordano trade

Mar 7 2022, 8:11 pm

When exploring trade deadline targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mark Giordano is often near the top of the list.

The 38-year-old Seattle Kraken captain is expected to be one of the top defencemen available ahead of the March 21 deadline. With Seattle sitting 30th in the NHL standings in their first year in the league, a departure seems inevitable for Giordano, with his $6.75 million per year contract set to expire this offseason.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported last week that the Leafs were among the teams interested in the veteran defender.

With Giordano born in Toronto, it’s a natural curiosity to wonder if he’ll end up with his hometown team over the next few weeks. Let’s take a look at the potential fit with the Leafs and measure up what Toronto could actually offer in exchange.

Does Giordano fit with the Leafs?

If you believe its veteran leadership that Toronto is lacking, Giordano checks all the boxes, having recently played his 1,000th game while serving as the captain for two different franchises in Seattle and Calgary.

He’s not quite at the level of play where he won the 2018-19 Norris Trophy, but has still put up a respectable season, managing six goals and 17 assists in 52 games with the Kraken this year, while averaging 21:25 of ice time per game, second-most amongst Seattle skaters. He’s kept his head above water on the possession front too, with a 53.5% Corsi-for mark at 5v5 play, above the team average of 50.2%.

In short, he’s still a very strong player, but finding his actual role with the Leafs is a bit tougher. Teaming up with former Flames defensive partner TJ Brodie in Toronto would be a natural fit, bumping one of Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, or Ilya Lyubushkin out of a fully healthy Toronto lineup.

It gets a little murkier trying to figure out if Toronto could make the money work. At the very least, Seattle would likely have to retain up to half of Giordano’s $6.75 million salary, with the Leafs currently having about $3.6 million in cap space (via the Jake Muzzin LTIR injury) per capfriendly.com.

What could Toronto offer for Giordano?

Toronto’s options in any trade for an NHL vet will likely start with a first-round draft pick. They traded away their first-rounder in 2019 and 2021 and shouldn’t be afraid to do so again in the right deal.

At the same time, Seattle won’t have as much leverage as an NHL team usually would in trading away a player with Giordano’s resume; after all, he’s an ageing talent on an expiring contract, with few NHL players sticking around past age 40. But there’s clearly interest in him league-wide, so it’s not like the Leafs can simply toss up an offer and assume it’s the best one Seattle will get. Players like Giordano often come in exchange for multiple assets, so unless they’re offering up several draft picks, that leads Seattle to limit their asking options.

The Leafs have just seven skaters signed beyond next season, all of whom are making upwards of $5 million and would presumably be off the table in this deal.

From a pure roster flexibility standpoint, Seattle targeting either forward Alex Kerfoot ($3.5m, UFA 2023) or defenceman Timothy Liljegren ($865k, RFA 2022) would be the most sensible adds. Otherwise, Seattle would have their eyes on the Leafs’ young prospects, including forwards such as Nick Robertson and Roni Hirvonen or defenceman Topi Niemala.

But whether it’s Toronto or not, Giordano’s home address is likely to be changed again over the next few weeks.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Maple Leafs