It’s the question that never seems to go away. It was only moments after Calgary Flames. They lost their captainFans began speculating about how and when Mark Giordano could be brought back to the C of Red after the Seattle Kraken was drafted in the expansion draft. The issue came to the forefront yet again this week after Giordano’s agent, Rich Winter, appeared on Sportsnet 960 And he suggested that he could absolutely see his client reunited with the 949-member team he wore 949 times.
Winter explained why Giordano would like to return to the NHL franchise for which he had played 15 NHL seasons. “I certainly think there’s a possibility,” Francis was told by he. “Coach loves him. The coach is loved by the player. Player is happy to call the city home. The team seems to be playing much better… and I think there could be an argument that a guy like Gio, with a little more offence, could really add to the mix… But that’s not something we control.”
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Giordano’s return is more emotional than logical. When hockey pundits were debating whether or not the Flames should have protected the 38-year-old from the expansion draft last summer, the argument to keep him in the fold was more about showing loyalty to one of the franchise’s all-time greats rather than his actual value to the team. Giordano’s advancing age, $6.75 million cap hit and declining on-ice performance made Calgary’s decision to part ways with the veteran defenceman a no-brainer. Six months later, absolutely nothing has changed.
The Flames Don’t Have a Top-4 Role Available for Giordano
The Kraken drafted Giordano in the expansion draft. There was much discussion about how the Flames would replace the long hours the former captain had logged every night. In seven of the eight past campaigns, Giordano led the team’s average ice time per match. He also led in the 37-year-old season. Before the 2021-22 season started, I wrote about how Juuso Välimäki hoped to step up to help fill the void. And while that definitely hasn’t happened, another young defender took everyone by surprise out of training camp and has risen to the challenge. Oliver Kylington has arrived.
Kylington is the Flames’ top blueliner with 19 points through 32 games. Their obvious chemistry together with Chris Tanev makes them a great pairing. The young Swede has provided the same offensive pop as Giordano, while Tanev remains one of the best shutdown defensemen in league. Another top-four pairing has been solid. Noah Hannifin is back to his best after last season, while Rasmus Andersson has a rebound year after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. That begs the question: where would Giordano slot in on the Flames’ roster?
Giordano Would Accept a Diminished Position?
While the Flames’ top-four seems to be set in stone right now, the third pairing has been a big question mark all season long. While Erik Gudbranson, a new addition to Calgary, had a solid start to his tenure there, his game has suffered in recent weeks. Nikita Zadorov, his partner, has been a major disappointment, especially when you consider his cap hit of $3.75million. Darryl Sutter has been urged to recall Valimaki from Stockton Heat or veteran Michael Stone to strengthen the bottom end of his D-core. But so far, Sutter has been sticking with his “twin towers,” who both offer size but not much more.
Giordano would be an upgrade to either Gudbranson, Zadorov or both? Absolutely. Is it logical to trade a draft pick in the first round and possibly a second/third-round pick in order to get a bottom pairing guy with a huge cap hit? No. Even if the Flames end up trading for their former captain, I really don’t know how he would fit in on a team that really doesn’t need him to be “the guy” anymore.
And don’t even get me started about what this means for the Flames’ vacant captaincy. Giordano’s possible return to the Flames would mean that he can wear the C on the chest once again. What if he didn’t re-sign with the team in the offseason? What if he resigned but was a third-pairing man with a diminished position? It’s a messy situation that is best avoided.
The Flames have other pressing needs
I think it’s fair to say that the Flames probably need another top-six forward more than they need defensive depth. It’s a safe bet that they find a way back to the postseason this season, so general manager Brad Treliving should address the team’s secondary scoring woes and consider adding more scoring punch ahead of the trade deadline. As reasonable options, players like Rickard Rakell, Filip Forsberg, and Tomas Hertl are all possible. Treliving could still add to the backend, but John Klingberg, a defenseman, is cheaper than Giordano and offers more offensive potential.
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I know Giordano still holds a very special place in Flames fans’ hearts, and you don’t have to look any further than his preseason appearance at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sep. 29. When the former captain opened the scoring for the Kraken, chants of “Gio” Nearly raised the roof. There’s obviously still a lot of love out there for the local legend, but it all comes down to what is best for the franchise moving forward. If it didn’t make sense to protect Giordano from the expansion draft, it certainly doesn’t make sense to bring him back now.
Greg Tysowski, a former broadcast journalist, chose the thrilling life of a father-at-home for more than a decade. He’s now a Published author, Parenting bloggerAn aspiring sports writer who covers the Calgary Flames for The Hockey Writers. Greg contributes regularly to the weekly roundtable discussion. “Flames Faceoff”Now streaming on YouTube, and all other podcast outlets.