Leafs acquire former Norris winner Mark Giordano from Seattle

Mark Giordano’s fondest memory growing up a Maple Leafs fan is that 1993 playoff run, which ended in the seventh game of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings.

“I really thought that they were really going to get to the Cup that year against the Montreal Canadiens,” Giordano said. “But Wayne Gretzky spoiled those plans.”

Giordano is a member of the Leafs now and has a chance to write his own playoff history on the team that he grew up admiring. The Leafs acquired the left-shot, 38-year-old veteran, along with 28-year-old depth forward Colin Blackwell, from the Seattle Kraken on the eve of Monday’s 3 pm trade deadline.

Giordano said it “means a lot” to be with Toronto, even this late in his career. “The Leafs were a team that was on my radar as a team that I might get traded to, and one of the better teams in the league. So to be able to be apart of this going forward and being my hometown is obviously a huge bonus. But to be able to join a team that has a real good shot at (doing) some damage in the playoffs is something I’m really excited about.”

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had said he didn’t want to part with a first-round pick or a prospect and managed to keep good to that word even as the teams around him shored up. Boston, Florida and Tampa are all stronger today at the cost of some hefty picks out the door.

Dubas sent second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a third-rounder in 2024 to the Kraken. Seattle is also retaining half of Giordano’s $6.75-million (US) cap hit.

“Talk about excitement,” said Blackwell, a Massachusetts native. “Going to a place a little bit closer to home and with an honest opportunity to be a part of something special and play in the playoffs and compete for a Stanley Cup, it’s all you could ever ask for.”

Blackwell, 28, has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 39 games with the Kraken this season and probably slides into a fourth-line role with the Leafs.

That wasn’t all Dubas did Sunday. Travis Dermott, whose playing time has dwindled, was sent to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick.

And there is still a lot up in the air: Struggling goalie Petr Mrazek ($3.8-million cap hit) and veteran forward Kyle Clifford ($1-million cap hit) were put on waivers. Either could be claimed by 2 pm Monday, which would create a lot more cap space for moves. Or they could be sent to the Marlies. All of Clifford’s salary would be buried, as would $1.25 million of Mrazek’s.

New Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano has been a captain in Seattle and Calgary.

The Leafs also sent Nick Robertson to the Marlies and signed Finnish goaltender Harri Säteri for the remainder of the season. Säteri, too, was placed on waivers, a requirement for any free agent signed in-season after having played professionally elsewhere.

But the key addition is Giordano. Over the course of his 14-year NHL career, Giordano has appeared in three all-star games (2015, 2016, 2020) and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman (2018-19, the NHL Foundation Player Award (2015- 16) and the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2019-20).He was captain in Calgary and Seattle.

And he was paired with TJ Brodie for long stretches in Calgary.

“I think Brodie doesn’t get enough credit or hasn’t gotten enough credit in his career for how good he is,” Giordano said. “I don’t know if you guys have noticed but he makes every partner he plays with look really good.”

The Leafs defense has been leaky lately. Part of that is on goaltending, part of that is the team’s defensive play. Giordano should help address the latter. He’s good at stopping the cycle, and getting the play to quickly go the other way.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe spoke highly of Giordano on March 8, when the Kraken visited.

“He has been a very good player in the league for a long time,” Keefe said. “He’s versatile and helps teams in all sorts of ways. He has a great character.”

Giordano was among the biggest names left on the trade board after the Leafs’ divisional rivals beefed up over the weekend. The Bruins added blueliner Hampus Lindholm from Anaheim, the Panthers added forward Claude Giroux from Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay got forward Brandon Hagel from Chicago and Nick Paul from Ottawa.

Dubas is probably not done, with the waiver situation for Mrazek and Clifford next to be sorted out.

If a team claims Mrazek, the Leafs would be out from under the remaining two years of his contract, though they’d have a gaping hole in net, for which Säteri could be insurance.

Säteri had a standout season with the KHL’s Novosibirsk Sibir and won Olympic gold with Finland in Beijing. With Jack Campbell still injured, the Leafs face the very real possibility of an untried goaltending tandem of Källgren and Säteri. The 32-year-old Säteri was a fourth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2008, played nine NHL games with the Florida Panthers in 2017-18, and spent six seasons in the AHL.


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