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Report: Mark Giordano wants to play in Toronto

Does Toronto want him back?

NHL: MAR 08 Kraken at Maple Leafs Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Frank Seravalli at Daily Faceoff is reporting today that Mark Giordano wants to play in Toronto:

The Kraken have been steadfast in their ask for a first-round pick for Giordano. Even though he’s older at 38 and has a significantly higher salary cap hit than Chiarot, Seattle’s point is that Giordano has the Norris Trophy pedigree to support the ask.

Giordano will have some sway in the matter. He essentially holds a 12-team “no-trade” list, or 19 teams to which he has approved a trade. If everything is equal, the Kraken would like to send their captain to a preferred destination.

That’s where the Toronto Maple Leafs come in: We’re told if Giordano has his wish, he’d like to go home to play for the blue and white.

The Maple Leafs appear to have prioritized help on the blue line, and Giordano is near the top of their list, along with Lindholm. It may well come down to price. Will Seattle’s ask drop to a second?

To emphasize, this is Daily Faceoff reporting on the player’s preference, not anyone else’s plans. You should read the rest of that article, as it’s got some interesting bits in on various players.

Reporting over the last two days by Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun has Kyle Dubas “not keen” to trade a first-round pick.

Aside from considerations around the cost of a rental — should Toronto want Giordano?

As mentioned he is 38, which means his best years are in the past. But he is a rental — there’s no term commitment here. His cap hit is $6.75 million, which would need to be whittled down with retention, possibly twice for the Leafs to be interested at all. The Kraken have already retained salary to move Calle Järnkrok, so they have two more kicks at that can under the CBA rules. They are in the business of selling their cap space right now, so they want to get as much as possible, not just for Giordano, but for the salary they do retain.

It’s possible to get Giordano on the Leafs cap-wise, because just about anything is possible if it’s what Dubas wants, but is it wise?

The top graph shows you the SPAR (Standings Points Above Replacement) that Giordano was responsible for over his entire career. The second graph is rated per 60 to account for his ice time variations.

He really was an amazing player. And this season on the Kraken is worse than his rookie years even. A caveat on looking at any kind of xAR stat is that it’s influenced by the percentages — shooting and goaltending — that player experienced on the ice. Seattle has the worst goaltending in the NHL this year. So while Giordano is still above average, that albatross is around his neck somewhat in these stats.

What stands out with Giordano is that his GAR value (measuring by goals instead of standings points — one standings point is approximately three goals) is mostly defensive.

Something else to consider is that the Leafs don’t need a power play defender, so ignore totally his 200 minutes on the PP.

He’s good at that one thing the Leafs are least good at which is defensive execution. And then there’s this problem:

One thing I noticed in 32 Thoughts this morning was that Elliotte Friedman said the Leafs were in the hunt for a left-shooting defender. And I think I know why. Even if Jake Muzzin comes back from concussion soon, this is the reality of his season. Even if he’s back, will he be back?

Of course the other benefit to Giordano on the Leafs — aside from just having a guy say, “yeah, I want to play in Toronto,” is that he’s met T.J. Brodie. They got along great.

For all that Seattle has had hideous goaltending, their real trouble is some of the worst offence in the NHL. They do defend decently well, however. Giordano is their number one defender by ice time in all situations, and his pairing with Adam Larsson is the clear top pairing on the team. It should be noted that Larsson’s top skill is also defence, which brings us to this ironic conundrum. When Brodie to the Leafs was rumoured, the worry was Giordano was really creating all that good defence. Now the worry with Giordano is that Larsson is carrying him. Maybe they’re just all good at it?

One thing to note is that Larsson gets trusted more against top forwards than Giordano does, but the difference is not extreme. Larsson is also used to hold leads more. It’s no secret I think Adam Larsson is the ideal defender for the Leafs, but he comes with long-term commitments to a cap hit the Leafs would struggle to afford. And Seattle might have zero interest in moving him, since he is the backbone of their defensive systems. As a rental Giordano might hit the right price point, and the right skillset over Hampus Lindholm.

Lindholm’s current year results are not significantly different to Muzzin’s. So to pay big for him, you have to believe hard that’s all the team he’s on, and that decade he has on Giordano makes him worth more. I’m not convinced. To pay big for Giordano, you have to believe hard that his defence is worth the deterioration of the rest of his game. I’m not wholly convinced by that either.

We will, as always, see where this goes.

* some of the content of this article is informed by Hockey Viz information as well as other kinds of data at Evolving Hockey.