Few NHL teams had a protection list as predictable as that of the Calgary Flames, who only had to expose one player that they’d truly hate to lose.
Unfortunately for the club, that player is captain Mark Giordano, who is really the only choice the Seattle Kraken can make.
Unless the Flames agree to cough up several significant assets to keep Giordano (which would include something in the neighbourhood of a first- and third-round pick), the defenceman’s storied, 949-game run with the club will come to an end.
Considering how much more valuable an asset Giordano is than any other exposed Flames player, don’t expect Kraken GM Ron Francis to bend on his demands.
While Giordano’s departure would free up $6.75 million in cap space for the club, coach Darryl Sutter would have to start next season without his best blueliner and team leader.
Not ideal for a club hoping to effect significant positive change this summer.
The Flames were unable to join the list of clubs who made last-minute trades with players they would otherwise have lost for nothing.
Giordano’s age, salary and rental status made him a tough fit with the few teams that would have had room to protect him.
No one can argue with opting for the younger, cheaper Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev ahead of Giordano, but the loss will sting nonetheless.
Possible Seattle targets
MARK GIORDANO: There really isn’t anyone else from the Flames that Seattle can consider.
The Kraken can make him the face of the franchise, counting on him to mentor young blueliners and set the tone for the club. Or they could flip him to any team they want, either before the season or at the deadline, retaining salary to maximize their return.
Either way, Giordano represents one of the biggest assets Seattle is poised to land Wednesday.
MILAN LUCIC: The 33-year-old agreed two summers ago to waive his no-movement clause for the expansion draft, facilitating the trade from Edmonton to Calgary. In Calgary he’s emerged a beloved leader and team spokesman, while playing an effective role on the third line. His age, foot speed and $5.25 million salary the next two years make him a long shot to be snagged should the Flames broker a deal to keep Giordano.
DEREK RYAN: His ties to the Pacific northwest make him a natural fit as a depth centre and role player in Seattle. However, using him as their Flames pick makes little sense as Ryan is a UFA who can sign with Seattle July 28 anyway.
Salary Cap Outlook
The loss of Giordano would free up almost $7 million, giving the Flames over $20 million to spend on plugging significant holes like the one the captain would leave.
Whether they do that by trade or via the open market the club has to be mindful of the fact Andrew Mangiapane will get a large raise on his $2.4 million deal next summer, as will Seven Million Dollar Man Matthew Tkachuk. Johnny Gaudreau is a UFA after next season, too, which means he’s in for a bump on his $6.75 million deal if he’s going to be re-signed.
Expect Calgary to be active at the draft and in free agency, as changes are needed to turn the franchise around.