The Calgary Flames have locked up their captain and all-star defenseman to a long-term extension.
It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Mark Giordano has inked a six-year extension with the Flames that will keep him in Calgary until the 2021-22 season. According to multiple sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the six-year deal carries an average annual value of $6.75 million. How exactly the salary is broken down hasn’t yet been reported, however.
Initial details of Giordano’s extension talks said the veteran defenseman was looking for somewhere in the $9 million range on an extension, which would have made him one of the five highest-paid defensemen in the league. At $6.75 million — an outstanding price for the Calgary Flames — Giordano will come in as one of the 10-highest paid defensemen, edging out the likes of Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo.
Giordano, 31, has spent the past seven seasons with the Flames and has been the club’s captain since the 2013. His play over the past few seasons has been a blessing for Calgary, as he has turned the corner from consistent top-pairing defenseman to legitimate Norris Trophy candidate. With his ability, he would have been one of 2016’s top free agents were he to hit the open market. The six-year extension assures Giordano won’t be going anywhere, though.
This past season, Giordano scored 11 goals and 48 points in 61 games and was considered one of the frontrunners for the league’s top defenseman honors. However, a torn bicep put him out of the Flames’ lineup in late-February and caused him to miss the remainder of the season and Calgary’s entire post-season run. By hitting the injured list, Giordano slipped down the Norris rankings and finished in sixth place in voting for the end-of-year award. Were it a full season, there’s reason to believe Giordano would have taken home the honors, though.
Over the past two campaigns, on a Flames team that has been abysmal in terms of puck possession, Giordano has been a standout blueliner. Realistically, the Flames should have fared much worse this past season. Thanks in large part to Giordano’s play, however, Calgary defied the statistical odds. The Flames’ success was a big reason why some considered him one of the best defensemen in the game.
In 2014-15, Giordano started the sixth-most shifts in the defensive zone of any Flames player to skate at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5. Yet, even with so many defensive zone starts, Giordano managed the second-highest shot attempts for percentage at 48.3 percent. Of all players in the league this past season to play 500 minutes at 5-on-5, only eight others were able to post as favorable a shot attempts percentage while logging the type of defense-heavy minutes Giordano did. None of those eight, however, were defensemen.
It’s difficult for one single player to change an entire team’s fortunes, but it’s hard to imagine where the Flames would be without Giordano’s contributions on the backend. He has helped shepherd in burgeoning rearguard T.J. Brodie and has been a steadying force for a Flames blueline that needed a standout defenseman. For those reasons alone, it's no surprise Giordano's new cap hit will make him the highest-paid Flame when his extension kicks in next season.
As the Flames continue to build on the youthful talent that made them an unlikely playoff team in 2014-15, Giordano can be the cornerstone of a Calgary team that could have Stanley Cup aspirations in two- to three-year’s time. And now that he’s locked up to a long-term deal, the only thing left for Giordano to do is give the Norris a solid, full-season chase. If he can stay healthy, it would be foolish to bet against him.