Should Flames Trade Giordano?
Calgary Captain Mark Giordano has flown out of the gate this season, helping propel the franchise toward the top of the Western Conference.
Giordano’s partnership with TJ Brodie, combined with Jonas Hiller’s outstanding play, has given the Flames a strong foundation from which to launch itself this year; with the Alberta outfit compiling a 14-8-2 record through the first quarter of the season.
As a result, the blue liners stock has never been higher – but at 31, will he still be an effective force once the Flames rebuilding project approaches completion?
And as such, should the question now be asked – is it time for GM Brad Treliving to consider moving Calgary’s best player?
The reasons for keeping hold of Giordano are obvious.
In 64 games last season, he set a personal best 14 goals and 47 points – entering the Olympic conversation before an injury in early December sidelined him for 18 games.
After 24 game of this seasons, Giordano is already well on his way to topping last years efforts – registering 6 goals and 24 points whilst averaging more than 24 minutes per night.
Giordano is unquestionably the Flames number one defenceman – a role incredibly hard to fill in today’s NHL – as well as being their most prominent leader (both literally as Captain, and figuratively); and all for a very reasonable $4m per season until 2016.
If/when it comes to talking about a contract extension, money isn’t a problem.
Calgary is ranked 29th in payroll with $16.7m in cap space at present. And whilst they will also need to look at re-signing the likes of Curtis Glencross and RFA’s Sven Baertschi and Johnny Gaudreau between now and 2016 as well, it’s hard to imagine the Flames would get themselves in to a position where they couldn’t retain Giordano beyond his current deal if they wanted to.
The veteran blue liner also has a No Trade Clause as part of his current contract; and his role in the Flames resurgence has been key, with arguably only Jonas Hiller being more important to the club’s new found success.
So for a franchise now five seasons removed from their last play-off appearance to even consider moving one of their biggest assets, the argument (and return) would need to be pretty strong.
Giordano turned 31 just days before the season started, while the rest of the Flames core (including line mate TJ Brodie) are all under 25; and as much as the organisation has quietly put itself back on the path to success, they still have some way to go.
They work hard, they have a solid group of talented youngsters – but they also have defending champions LA breathing down their necks, and probably wouldn’t come out on top of a fight with Dallas, Minnesota and San Jose for a wild card spot.
If we assume Arizona and Colorado also improve things get even tougher for the Flames.
The cold hard reality is that, despite some serious strides over the past season and a half, Calgary are still at least a couple of years away from being truly competitive in an ultra tough Western Conference.
It’s ‘simple maths’ as much as anything.
Does that mean they can never compete? Obviously not, we’re seeing the foundations of a good team being built this season. But they are not quite as good as their opponents just yet, and the question remains whether Giordano will be as effective by the time Calgary is ready to kick on.
For the most part, Giordano has improved year on year (the lock out shortened 2012/13 season aside); but it’s hard to believe he isn’t at the apex of his career now, and as such his trade value will never be higher.
The rarity of available defenceman of Giordano’s quality make him ‘of interest’ to pretty much every other team in the NHL; and while Giordano’s NTC will almost certainly be used to eliminate a good chunk of those clubs, Calgary would still be in a strong position when it comes to negotiating a deal.
The Flames could look to add other NHL ready prospects to their core, grab another first round pick (or two), maybe an experienced hand who also has a few more years on his side – it’s a sellers market when it comes to D men, and Calgary could help boost their long term gains by taking a short term hit by moving Giordano.
And from the Toronto native’s point of view; if, say, Tampa Bay or Boston came in and offered him a shot at the Cup, doesn’t he have to strongly consider it?
What about Los Angeles? Short a top four defenceman with Slava Voynov suspended indefinitely; the Kings have sufficient cap space to take on Giordano, a need to ease Drew Doughty’s considerable ice time and they assets that might be of interest to Calgary – including netminder Martin Jones. Who better to succeed Hiller between the pipes?
Trading to a Divisional rival may not be appealing on the surface – but if it makes you better in the long run, surely it’s something to think about for the Flames?
Of course, Calgary may consider Giordano’s value to go beyond simple numbers. His influence on Brodie, the experience he adds to this young team and the pivotal role he plays on both offence and defence – plus replacing a #1 D man is not easy, even if he is approaching the back nine of his career.
The franchise may simply feel a decline in points is worth the trade off when/if Giordano can help make the young guns better in the long run.
But if ever there was a time to move Giordano, it’s this season.
It feels almost inevitable Calgary will slip down the standings; and moving Giordano will help them move that little bit closer to some of the top prospects available in a deep draft next summers draft, whilst also helping Calgary add assets to further aid future success.
One step back to take two steps forward.
Will it happen? It seems unlikely. But if Treliving and the Flames want to be bold, there may be no better way to advance the teams long term ambitions than to cash in on one players short term rise to prominence.