“I think my job is always on the ice to lead by example and to perform.”
– Mark Giordano
Before we continue, let’s just get a few things straight. Mark Giordano is one of the greatest leaders, mentors, samaritans, and teammates in the NHL today. From being undrafted to captaining the Calgary Flames for the last 4 years, his dedication and drive to succeed is truly admirable. Over the last three years, he finished 6th, 13th, and 8th in Norris Trophy voting, and is 10th overall in NHL scoring by defensemen.
He recently won the inaugural ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for his Team Giordano program, and is consistently in the conversation for best captain and best defenseman in the League.
Giordano is also a personal favourite of mine. His story is inspiring, his work ethic is enviable, and his on-ice play is elite. After watching Jarome Iginla, a childhood idol, wear the “C” for so long, Giordano has done as good a job as one could ask in succeeding a player as influential as Iginla, both on and off the ice.
But the Flames are in a bit of a pickle. While Giordano is still the team’s best defenseman and among its best players, there are a few concerns surrounding the Captain that the Flames brass needs to start thinking about now. We’ll explore some of the most compelling reasons why the Flames should trade their heart and soul, their captain, and one of the best to wear the Flaming C.
Yes, Giordano is a late bloomer and has found elite level success in his post 30 age seasons. But he isn’t Chris Chelios and it isn’t the 90s. This is 2017 where hockey is fast, tough, and mean. Giordano doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to health, only playing a full 82 games twice in his 11 year NHL career. As he creeps into his mid-to-late 30s, the chance of an injury derailing his career increases with every year. Maybe Giordano will age gracefully and remain among the best defensemen for years to come. The more likely scenario though, is that he gets quietly usurped by Dougie Hamilton as the top Flames blueliner and fades into a depth role a few years down the road. While Giordano is still playing at an elite level, the Flames should look to move him before his inevitable old age crash comes.
2. Trade Value
Age aside, Giordano has it all. His numbers speak for themselves, and his ability as a captain and humanitarian give him the full package. He has size, skill, and character: all the attributes GM’s look for in today’s NHL. It’s important to realize that if a team is to receive the best value for a player in a trade, that player still has to be impactful and well above replacement level. Just as no GM would pay a premium for Shane Doan or Jarome Iginla right now, it takes a gutsy and forward thinking manager to pull the trigger at the right time. In the same way Brad Treliving managed to gain valuable assets for an overperforming Jiri Hudler and overrated Kris Russell, this is an important time in Giordano’s career in regards to his trade value. With his incredible performance in the last few seasons but best years likely behind him, this is the perfect time for Treliving to trade him and get a serious haul in return. It definitely hurts to trade a player when they’re still making a huge impact on your team, but Nashville seems pretty happy with PK Subban. Teams like Washington, Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay would jump at the chance to add a player like Giordano, and would likely pay up to get him. His trade value will never be higher than it is right now. It’s time to pull the trigger before it’s too late.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to say goodbye to Gio is the immense prospect depth the Flames currently have at the defense position. Darren Haynes’ recent prospect rankings features 3 defensemen in the top 5, and several key players have taken serious steps forward in the last year. Brett Kulak and Rasmus Andersson appear to be NHL ready or extremely close at the least, Adam Fox looks like a mini Bobby Orr, Oliver Kylington’s skating and puck handling is even silkier and smoother than before, and Jusso Valimaki had a phenomenal showing at the world junior showcase where he served as captain of the Finnish team.
If the Flames are serious about promoting all of these players in the next few years, some changes to the current group need to be made. If Giordano can bring in valuable assets and allow for promising prospects to grow at the NHL level, it’s a win-win for the Flames. In two or three years time, maybe the Flames blueline looks like this instead:
Dougie Hamilton – Adam Fox
TJ Brodie – Rasmus Andersson
Oliver Kylington – Jusso Valimaki
It’s an exciting lineup.
Trading away your captain and best player is never easy. Sometimes though, making the tough choice now is the best option in the long run. Thank you for your time in Calgary, Mark, it’s sad to see you go.
Let us know what you think in the comments below, or on Twitter @wincolumnblog.