Mark Giordano is heading home after the Seattle Kraken sent their captain to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who made their big move Sunday on the eve of the NHL trade deadline to shore up their defense.
Giordano joins his hometown team looking to help the franchise win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1967. The 38-year-defenseman brings additional leadership to a core that has not won a playoff series in several attempts together.
Toronto sent second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a third-rounder in 2024 to Seattle for Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell. The expansion Kraken retained half of Giordano’s salary to make the cap math work for the Leafs.
The Leafs also acquired a third-rounder in the draft this summer from Vancouver for defenseman Travis Dermott. The Canucks made room for Dermott by sending Travis Hamonic to Ottawa for a different 2022 third-round selection.
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Toronto got a respected veteran in Giordano without giving up a first-round pick like division rivals Boston, Florida and Tampa Bay in moves made in recent days.
“As the organization’s first captain, he made an immediate and lasting impact both on and off the ice,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said. "He is a consummate professional, and we appreciate his effort and leadership to help establish a culture here.”
While he recently played his 1,000th NHL game, Giordano has dressed in only 23 playoff games in 16 NHL seasons. His 24th could be part of one of the most scrutinized series in recent history with the pressure again on the Maple Leafs to advance.
It could come against the back-to-back defending champion Lightning or the Panthers, who made another move before Monday’s trade deadline and may not be done loading up for a long run. The Panthers acquired defenseman Robert Hagg from the Buffalo Sabres for a sixth-round pick in the draft this summer.
Eastern Conference-leading Florida already traded for Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux and Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot. With Aaron Ekblad injured and expected to miss at least two weeks, the Panthers could put their top defenseman on long-term injured reserve for the rest of the season and use the salary cap space to accumulate more talent.
Hagg, a 27-year-old Swede, has six seasons of NHL experience and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Florida general manager Bill Zito called Hagg “a tireless competitor” who adds a physical element to the blue line.
Before getting Giordano, the Maple Leafs’ focus was on their goaltending, which has become a major problem and looks like their biggest impediment to an extended playoff run. Toronto signed Olympic gold medal-winning Finnish goaltender Harri Sateri and put struggling veteran Petr Mrazek on waivers.
Sateri, 32, signed a pro-rated $750,000 contract for the rest of the season. He needs to clear waivers before joining Toronto, so any other team around the league could claim him and mess with the Leafs’ latest plan to fix their goaltending woes.
Reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is now the top player available. There could be more than a dozen depth moves before the deadline Monday at 3 p.m. EDT.
Here’s a look at who else could be on the move:
It’s more a question of if Fleury will be traded than where because he has strong protection in his contract and the Blackhawks’ word that they will only move him if that’s his choice. It’s quite possible nothing materializes and he remains in Chicago the rest of the season.
The Washington Capitals in recent weeks asked around about multiple goaltenders, including Fleury. But after so many memorable playoff series against the Capitals while with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury doesn’t seem keen on helping a former rival and potentially facing his old team.
After helping the Penguins win the Cup three times and backstopping the Vegas Golden Knights to the final in their inaugural season in 2018, maybe Fleury can be persuaded to help the Maple Leafs try for their first championship in 55 years.
It’s not normal for 23-year-old defensemen signed for three more seasons to be available this time of year, and this one is complicated by injury. But Chychrun is coming off a season in which he finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting with the Arizona Coyotes and would be a top-four if not top-pairing contributor for a contender interested in trying to take a few cracks at the Cup.
Based on the Bruins trading a first-round pick, two second-rounders and prospect Urho Vaakanainen to the Anaheim Ducks for Hampus Lindholm — whom they then signed for $52 million over eight years — the price for Chychrun could be even higher. But the Coyotes are still early in a full-scale, long-term rebuild, so they are motivated to stockpile future assets.
Speaking of Arizona being motivated to make trades, moving Kessel is a no-brainer. A two-time Cup champion with Fleury in Pittsburgh, the veteran winger has struggled to produce on one of the league’s worst teams, but he could certainly do more with better talent around him.
Kessel was almost a point-a-game player on the Penguins Cup runs in 2016 and 2017 and still has something left in the tank at 34.
A pending unrestricted free agent, Domi could be on to his fourth NHL organization at age 27. He spent the past two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who could also trade pending free agent goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Dean Kukan.
Domi, who the Capitals have shown interest in, would like Kessel benefit from playing with different linemates and the chance to make a long postseason run. He has only played in 10 playoff games all with Montreal in the bubble in 2020.
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