Agent says Giordano could return to Flames and Mangiapane should test free agency

Seattle Kraken's Mark Giordano skates during warmup. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

As the agent who represents Mark Giordano and Andrew Mangiapane, Ritch Winter said he can absolutely see a scenario in which the former is traded back to the Flames, and will urge the latter to avoid signing a long-term deal with Calgary this summer.

Winter’s candid remarks came in a wide-ranging interview on The Eric Francis Show on Monday, when he provided plenty of insight into two hot-button topics involving the future of the popular players.

“I certainly think there’s a possibility,” Winter told Sportsnet Fan 960 listeners when asked if he thought the Flames might re-acquire Giordano -- the 38-year-old Seattle Kraken captain -- at the trade deadline.

“Coach loves him. Player loves the coach. Player has a home in the city. 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.”

Obviously not, as that would be up to Seattle GM Ron Francis, who claimed Giordano from the Flames at the expansion draft and made him captain.

Asked if Francis had indicated he’d consider trading the pending UFA this year, as many expect, Winter would only say they’d “chatted about it over the course of the season,” and that he didn’t expect it to be a front-burner issue for another month.

“I don’t see anybody making a serious move until shortly before the trade deadline because most of the teams that would be interested don’t have the cap room to bring him in early,” said Winter of Giordano, who has a $6.75 million cap hit.

“Calgary has got to be a possibility. I know from Gio’s perspective, obviously his entire adult life has been lived in the city of Calgary, where he counts most of his friends, many who are teammates. I gotta think he’d be excited about it.

“(Flames GM) Brad (Treliving) and I talked a lot about (Giordano) over the course of the summer. He certainly did not want to lose him, and I think that his feelings won’t have changed.”

Winter later confirmed Giordano has a 10-team no-trade list, and you can bet the Flames aren’t on it.

“I would think there’s a possibility (of a Calgary return) because if you look at the landscape there are not a lot of teams that have a need for a veteran player like Gio, have the cap room and could see the acquisition of Mark as a feather in their cap as they move forward to try to challenge for a Stanley Cup or get further in the playoffs than they have,” said Winter.

While it’s a story for another day, the price tag to acquire Giordano would likely be right around what the Kraken wanted from Calgary in the summer -- a first- and either second- or third-round pick. Steep.

Winter’s thoughts on Mangiapane’s future weren’t quite as exciting for Flames fans, who are hoping the contract the pending restricted free agent signs this summer with the team is of the long-term variety.

“My advice to him would be to do a short-term deal by way of arbitration or negotiation -- negotiating ideally -- and then let’s wait and take a look at the landscape,” said Winter, whose client is one year away from being able to sign anywhere as an unrestricted free agent.

“Patience is a virtue. There are an awful lot of variables going on around him, like, is Johnny (Gaudreau) staying? Is Chucky (Matthew Tkachuk) staying? What’s happening around you on the team? But more importantly, what other opportunities are there out there?

“You’re a year away from being an unrestricted free agent at age 27 and, really, in the heart of your best producing years of your career. There’s nothing more valuable in a player’s career than his ability to look into free agency and see what the options are, and I highly recommend that he focus on that.”

The Flames undoubtedly hope their leading goal scorer will consider committing to a long-term pact that will ensure even his grandchildren’s children will be set for life.

Treliving has historically done a good job extending core players like Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund past unrestricted free agency with life-altering offers.

“Bird in the hand -- it’s very difficult to ignore,” said Winter of a large lump-sum sure to be thrown at Mangiapane this summer.

“Strategically it’s the best angle that teams have to get players to sign, and Brad has been pretty effective at this with other players on the team. Players who say, ‘ya I’m probably worth a little more, but at the end of the day this is a lot of money. I think I’m going to tell my agent I’ll take it.’”

Winter is quick to point out the decision is ultimately Mangiapane’s, and there are plenty of reasons why the player may choose to stay long-term with the club that drafted him.

“At the end of the day there may be a number that Andrew finds very compelling, that he will take -- that’s his choice,” said Winter, citing several players who’ve been miserable after chasing bigger money elsewhere instead of staying where they are comfortable.

“He likes Calgary. He has lots of friends in Calgary and best friends on the team. The team may be the best choice, so you don’t want to close the door on Calgary being his spot. There’s a lot of factors that weigh in favour of him signing long term in Calgary after free agency.”

Overlooked his entire career, Winter said the sixth-rounder was motivated to prove he could outperform the one-year, two-way deal for the league minimum he got in 2019.

He sure did, and was rewarded with a two-year deal worth $2.42 million annually, which expires this summer.

Now his motivator is likely proving he deserves more than second- and third-line minutes, which he’s long been saddled with in Calgary.

“In my view, Andrew will be, over the course of the next three years, among the top five forwards in the game,” said Winter, citing 5-on-5 goal-per-minute stats that make him the team’s most productive scorer the last three years and amongst the league’s best this season.

“I really think there’s a lot of evidence to support that, because what’s surprising is that Andrew is accomplishing this, and scoring at this rate, while playing three and four minutes less than the other players, which only tells you those players are playing with the best players on their teams.

“It’s astonishing how effective he is, like a lot of elite players, in elevating the games of all the people around him. I suspect, to a degree, that’s why Darryl (Sutter) uses him on the second power-play unit instead of the first, because he’s the best on this team statistically for elevating the play of those around him.

“It’s not a surprise that Darryl would use him on the second or third line for the same reason.

"So, in many respects, as frustrating as it is at times to not get the kind ice time your production suggests you should get, it’s just a backhanded compliment because you’re more valuable than just the goals you bring to the table.”

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