Maple Leafs Land Giordano; Make a Flurry of Moves On Eve of Trade Deadline

Across the NHL there have been plenty of moves that have taken place over the course of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend as Monday marks the official end of any trades throughout the league.

As expected the Toronto Maple Leafs were getting deals done before the time runs out, bolstering their lineup as the home stretch of the season starts to ramp up.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas started his midseason acquisition spree earlier than many expected when he sent newly acquired free agent forward Nick Ritchie to the Arizona Coyotes, with a conditional pick in either 2023 or 2025. In return the Leafs received the large Russian defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin and former Ottawa Senator Ryan Dzingal.

Dzingal needed to clear waivers before joining the team, and was ultimately claimed off of them by the San Jose Sharks, but the Russian has inserted himself right into the heart of the Leafs defence.

With players like Justin Holl and Travis Dermott fighting for a spot on the team, and rookie defencemen Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Lilijgren also fighting for one of the six available slots on the team, Lyubushkin has ensured he has a spot in the lineup every night with his physical presence and good defensive intelligence helping shore up some of the defensive miscues that the Leafs were accustomed to going through over the past few years.

Many questions still remained for Dubas and company as the deadline approached. Toronto has been in plenty of trade rumours for the past week leading up to the deadline, with one question on many people’s minds being would the Leafs look to make another splash to shore up their defence? Would they bring in another forward? Or would they be looking to change up their goaltending situation?

On Sunday afternoon Dubas had answers to all three of these questions.


Image Credit: The Leafs E.Sokolowski

Former Calgary Flames defenceman and current Seattle Kraken captain Mark Giordano was on the move back as he now has the chance to play with his hometown team in the Maple Leafs.

Giordano, 38, has spent his 16 year NHL career split between the Calgary Flames, before being selected by the Seattle Kraken in their expansion draft over the summer.

He served 15 years in Calgary after signing as an undrafted free agent and making his debut against the St. Louis Blues in 2006.

Mark has appeared in 1004 games in the NHL, while also putting up a respectable 532 points from the blueline, over the course of his career as his point totals slowly started to regress, Giordano improved the defensive side of his game massively.

Giordano was voted as the best defenceman in the NHL in 2018-2019 following a fantastic season which saw him finish with 74 points in 78 games, which stands as his career high. He was rewarded with this great season with the Norris trophy. While his offensive numbers may have taken a massive step back from what it once was, does not mean that Toronto isn’t adding a valuable weapon on the blueline to add to their threat of scoring.

Not only are the Leafs adding a very astute two-way defenceman, they are also acquiring a former leader. As mentioned before, Giordano was named as the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural captain, and while his time with the Kraken was short lived he led by example every night.

Before being snapped up by Seattle in their expansion draft, Giordano also took the mantle of being the captain of the Calgary Flames, after it was passed down to him following the departure of the much beloved Jerome Iginla in 2013, where he would hold the title for eight seasons.

All of the above qualities can only add to the Leafs defence as they try to make a push in the playoffs following five consecutive losses in the opening round of the playoffs.

Toronto also acquired depth forward in the deal bringing Colin Blackwell over as well.

Image Credit: Kraken Chronicle

Blackwell, 28, has bounced around the NHL with stints in Nashville, New York, Seattle and now with Toronto. The former seventh round pick of the San Jose Sharks spent four years playing at Harvard University before spending time in the AHL.

Blackwell is not the most flashy forward with only 23 goals and 49 points in 119 games, but what he lacks in offensive prowess he makes up for in good defensive work.

Blackwell will look to cement a spot in the Leaf lineup as their is a log jam of forwards looking to get consistent game-time as he will slot in a bottom six spot.

In one swoop Dubas was able to add a sturdy, veteran NHL defenceman who can help shore up defensive woes the Leafs have been experiencing, as well as provide the back-end with a leadership boost. On top of Giordano, Dubas also acquired an insurance option in Blackwell that could come in handy as the season winds down and the playoffs approach.


Image Credit: The Leafs E. Sokolowski

As a direct result of the Giordano/Blackwell deal Toronto needed to find a way to be cap compliant, even with a 50% retention by the Kraken on Giordano’s $6.75 million AAV.

The casualty for the Leafs would be Travis Dermott, as he would end his five year stint with his boyhood team as he was shipped off to the Canucks for a third round pick in this year’s draft.

Dermott’s name has been in trade talks for a while now as it seemed like it was only a matter of time for Dermott to be shipped off, but he always managed to play his way out of trade talks. His current cap hit at $1.5 million AAV was too much for the Leafs to carry as Dermott’s place on the team seemingly fell further and further down the lineup as each passing week carried on.

With a defence corps that now boasts former Norris winning defenceman Mark Giordano, Morgan Rielly, T.J Brodie, Justin Holl, Lyubushkin, Sandin and Liljigren time on the Maple Leafs was running out on the former second round pick.

Dermott has spent the past seven years in the Toronto organization after spending parts of three seasons with the AHL Marlies before finally being called up to the NHL in the 2017-2018 season.

Dermott was once considered one of the Leafs top defensive prospects and had shining moments during his Leaf tenure but he was unable to maintain a locked down spot in the Leaf lineup, especially higher than the top two pairings. His breakout ability and puck control still makes Dermott a valuable asset.

Tweet Credit: @NickDeSouza_

Growing up as a Leaf fan and playing for the Leafs was something that Dermott never took for granted, especially on his NHL debut when he recorded his first goal with his father in attendance back in 2018.

The look of pure emotion on his face when his teammates come over to congratulate him is one memory plenty of fans would have engrained in their memories as that is what it looks like to play with your heart on your sleeve.

Both of these trades both strengthen and bolster the Leafs offence and defence, but one question still remained for Dubas, what was he going to do in net?


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When Petr Mrazek was signed in the offseason to a 3 year deal with a cap hit of $3,800,000 AAV many didn’t expect his start with the organization would be at its end not even a year in, but after some dismal performances this season coupled with some lingering injury concerns his time with the Leafs looks to be at an impasse.

While it might be unlikely that Mrazek is claimed off of waivers, simply due to the fact that his salary would be too bloated for many teams to take a chance at rehabilitating the 30 year old.

Warning signs for Dubas should have come after his time in Detroit and Philadelphia, and his, for lack of a better term, somewhat squirrelly style of play doesn’t really mesh well with how the Leafs deal with chances on the back-end.

Perhaps this was an oversight by the Leafs top brass, or maybe they thought they could work around his style of play but, for various reasons it just has never worked out.

Should Mrazek not return to the Leafs he finishes his time with a respectable 10-6-0 record, but his underlying .884 save percentage and 3.48 GAA have at times torpedoed any goodwill that Mrazek has.

While this season might be the worst season of his career so far does not mean that he is an objectively “bad” goalie, as he has performed at a league average rate for most parts of his career, and this could be all the potential a team would need to take on him and his salary for the rest of this season and next two after.

As a result of Mrazek being placed on waiver, and a timeline on regular starting goalie Jack Campbell still unclear, the Maple Leafs signed Harri Sateri to a league minimum $750,000.

Sateri joins the Leafs from KHL side Novosibirsk Sibir and comes with a 14-16-5 record this season but putting up a 2.02 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Whether it remains to be seen what will be done with Sateri going forward as he might be sent down to the AHL to play with the Marlies once Campbell returns.

Kyle Dubas haș one more day reconvene with his staff and decide if they are done making moves and are happy to take this current Leaf squad into the postseason and try to make some noise.


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