Will Giordano & Blackwell Help the Maple Leafs?

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a fairly big acquisition at the 2022 Trade Deadline by acquiring veteran defender Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell from the Seattle Kraken.

This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme for the Leafs in a couple of ways. First, bringing in yet another blueliner to help the team’s defense. Second, they have a growing affinity for energetic, cheap depth forwards in an attempt to fill holes in their roster in a cost-effective manner

In exchange for Giordano and Blackwell, the Kraken will be receiving a 2022 second-round draft pick, a 2023 second-round draft pick, and a 2024 third-round draft pick. 

The Trade from Seattle’s Perspective

Basically, the Kraken are now, nearly a year late, trying to do what the entire hockey world was assuming they’d do heading into the expansion draft. Get a bunch of futures in exchange for taking or not taking certain players. In my opinion, yet another blemish on the expansion draft record for the Kraken by doing this so late.

This strategy did the Vegas Golden Knights a load of good in filling out their inaugural roster just five seasons ago. But the last offseason as the Kraken’s expansion draft came and past, we were all a bit bewildered at the lack of trades and pick acquisitions the team made, not to mention the amount of talent and pedigree they left unselected.

Unsurprisingly, the team then struggled and now find themselves at the start of a rebuild, if you want to call it that. So far, the Kraken have accumulated 11 picks in the upcoming Entry Draft, including four in the second round. This is the type of situation we expected of the NHL’s newest franchise. It seems that they’ve finally lowered their prices enough to commit to this type of build.

This particular trade is also a smart move, following the general trend of other trades so far this deadline season, to get picks in successive years rather than all in one. The Kraken will be able to use these to spread out player development and stagger the curves in their prospect pipeline.

How will Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell Help the Toronto Maple Leafs?

After clearing out some cap space by trading Travis Dermott and waiving Petr Mrazek and Kyle Clifford, the Maple Leafs were able to make their big deadline splash. Veteran defender Giordano, a (now) former captain of two different NHL franchises, and energetic, versatile forward Blackwell have arrived to try and guide the Maple Leafs into playoff success. But how exactly will these trades impact the team’s lineup? Let’s take a look.

Giordano is one of the more highly regarded and respected defenders around the NHL. He was admired for his lengthy and fairly successful career with the Calgary Flames, where he was a consistent staple of their lineup over the course of 15 seasons. He is less than three seasons removed from a 74-point Norris Trophy-winning campaign back in 2018-19, so even though he is now 38 years old, he has still been an impactful defender in recent years.

The Maple Leafs, as usual, were looking for ways to improve overall team defense. And Giordano is a player who can do that. He is smart, experienced, and although he is starting to lose a step or two, skates well enough and knows what routes to take to help stifle offense. 

Although his advanced stats are fairly average on the season, hovering around 50% in Goals for Percentage and Chances for Percentage, he is right in line with his teammates and it is hard to gauge certain things when playing on a team that has had the goaltending struggles that the Kraken have.

In my opinion, the most important thing Giordano will be providing to this Maple Leafs’ team is leadership. Ultimately, they have a young and inexperienced team in Toronto that is still trying to find a groove, especially with playoff hockey. He doesn’t have a whole lot of playoff experience, only getting in 23 postseason games in his 16-year career, but you don’t spend that many years around the NHL and as a captain of two franchises without having solid leadership qualities and picking up a thing or two from other players and coaches. 

Giordano will be able to take on a mentor role with the team, specifically with players like Morgan Rielly, Rasmus Sandin, and Timothy Liljegren who compose the current and future core of Toronto’s defense.

Moving over to Blackwell, he is a player I’ve been pretty hyped on over the past season and a half. A solid energy player for the New York Rangers in 2020-21, I thought the Kraken got a good player by sneaking him out in the expansion draft. Despite a slow start and missing the first month to injury, he has been a strong player, but maybe not as impactful as I thought. 

With 17 points in 39 games thus far, he has low-key had a decent offensive season. Toronto needs to find ways to fill out their roster and plug holes by acquiring cheap, depth players. The team has a ton of turnover in these positions as they try and find the right fits, but sometimes these players stick. This is an appealing factor for the Maple Leafs.

Blackwell does project to start on the fourth line. But I would expect him to get chances a bit farther up the lineup given his playstyle. A bit of a sparkplug player who is very versatile. He won’t dazzle anyone with skill, but he is an incredibly hard battler the Leafs might find valuable in certain situations.

Neither of these players will move the needle, so to speak, for the Maple Leafs. But that isn’t what they need any more from their acquisitions. The team is at a point where they’re trying to fill small, specific holes and locker room needs rather than build a lineup. And with this trade, they have accomplished that at a reasonable price. The Maple Leafs are firmly in their Cup window, and they cannot sit on their hands while the rest of their division continues to win the Stanley Cup or make big moves to try and win as well. Although they are going to soon feel the impact of these years in the way of a depleted prospect pool, sometimes you have to do it because it’s the Cup.

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Sean is a lifelong, stubborn Oilers fan who somehow still has hope that next season will be the year. Hockey is his biggest interest and hobby, so he follows the whole league as closely as he can.