The only significant trade made by the Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Kyle Dubas during the 2022 trade deadline season was the acquisition of former Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano and bottom-six winger Colin Blackwell. Amazingly, the Leafs were able to retain all of their top prospects, as well as their first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 draft this deadline season yet fill two of their biggest needs. Seattle will retain 50% of Giordano’s salary, as well as earn two second-round picks (2022 and 2023) in addition to a third-round pick in 2024.
As we wrote in our Seattle Kraken trade deadline preview article earlier this month, The franchise’s first and only captain was the team’s best trade chip this deadline season, as multiple teams definitely had interest in the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman according to multiple insiders. Similar to Giroux, Seattle’s return for Giordano was likely impacted by the fact he had a no-movement clause, leaving the team with limited partners in a deal. He’s thirty-eight years old, making $6.7 million until the conclusion of this season. Offensively this season, Mark Giordano currently registering similar production to his final year in Calgary during the 2020-21 campaign, as he’s scored six goals with seventeen assists for twenty-three points in forty-nine games with the Kraken to this point. He’s currently averaging 21.3 minutes per game of ice-time, his lowest since 2009-10 (20.50), and yet still had the second-highest average TOI on the team, trailing only fellow defenseman Adam Larsson’s 21.58. AB-wise, Giordano’s midseason individual AB score of -8.57 is the worst individual score recorded of his career, as he’s been a solid, positive AB performer (+2-3 score or higher) in six of his thirteen seasons of data. A change of scenery is exactly what Giordano needed in our opinion to rejuvenate his individual season, and the fact he is reunited with his old defense partner from Calgary in T.J. Brodie is an added benefit with the Leafs. Giordano is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.
Colin Blackwell is a sneaky good add here for Kyle Dubas and his management team, as Colin Blackwell has been a positive AB player in each of his two NHL seasons, playing for the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers. In those two seasons, Blackwell registered a +5.24 score, which was one of the better scores registered by Predators players that season, and a +1.83 score with the New York Rangers last season, making him a solid pickup for the Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft in our eyes. This season, however, Blackwell’s midseason numbers suggest the twenty-eight-year-old forward is due for his first career negative AB individual season, as he had a -3.71 score at the midway point. Despite this, Blackwell is on pace to set a new career-high in points as he has seventeen (eight goals with nine assists) in thirty-nine games this season, just five fewer than his previous career-high point total of twenty-two with the New York Rangers last season. If he gets a shot on the Leafs’ second line centered by captain John Tavares and talented winger William Nylander, we could see Blackwell easily setting those career-highs with twenty games remaining in the regular season.
To briefly address the Kraken’s return, GM Ron Francis and his management group clearly wanted to accumulate as many draft picks as possible this deadline season. Mission accomplished, as the Leafs’ pick in 2022 is the Kraken’s fourth second-round pick in that draft (fifth in the top-64) and the Leafs’ pick in 2023 is the Kraken’s third second-round pick in that year (fourth in the top-64). Seattle also acquired several more draft picks in the bevy of other trades they made during the 2022 deadline, as we will discuss them in our next article. Overall, we believe the deal was solid for both sides, as Mark Giordano will provide yet another veteran presence to a Leafs locker room that is fighting to win their first playoff series since 2004, and their first Stanley Cup since 1967. Toronto currently has a 39-18-5 record in the sixty-two games they’ve played thus far and has a two-point lead on the surging Boston Bruins for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. After an arms race by the Atlantic clubs this deadline season, it will surely be interesting to see how the remaining twenty games play-out for playoff seeding. Much more to come.