The Toronto Maple Leafs are the latest team to make a significant addition to their defense before Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline.
On Sunday the Maple Leafs acquired veteran defenseman Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for two second-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a third-round pick (2024). Seattle is also retaining 50 percent of Giordano’s remaining contract.
In a corresponding move to help clear salary cap space, the Maple Leafs sent defenseman Travis Dermott to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third-round pick. That move came after the Canucks cleared some salary cap space of their own by sending Travis Hamonic and his remaining contract to the Ottawa Senators for a third-round pick.
The big story here though is Giordano.
Giordano, 38, is in the final year of his current contract that carries a $6.75 million salary cap and is eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. After spending his entire career prior to this season as a member of the Calgary Flames, he was selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft and was named the team’s first ever captain. In 55 games this season he has six goals, 17 assists, and 23 total points.
His offensive production has taken a step back from where it was at his peak, but he can still contribute at that end of the ice and is still very good defensively. That is going to be a big help for a Toronto team that has struggled with goal prevention in recent weeks and is still without defender Jake Muzzin due to injury.
Blackwell is a strong depth addition at forward that will also help defensively.
This is the second addition Toronto has made to its blue line over the past month, also adding Ilya Lyubushkin from the Arizona Coyotes.
With the defensive additions made, the big question remaining now is whether or not Toronto will — or can — do something to its goalie situation. That has been the elephant in the room over the past few weeks with Jack Campbell injured (and struggling prior to that) and Petr Mrazek not really giving them NHL caliber goaltending. On Sunday the Maple Leafs waived Mrazek and signed 2022 Gold Medal winning goalie Harri Sateri to a contract for the remainder of the regular season. Sateri must clear waivers before he can join the Maple Leafs, so that is not even a guarantee at the moment.
In the days leading to the trade deadline the Atlantic Division has been extremely busy. Florida has added Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg to its defense, along with Claude Giroux at forward. Boston acquired Hampus Lindholm from Anaheim and immediately signed him to an eight-year contract extension. Tampa Bay added forward Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks for a package of multiple first round draft picks and players. All of these teams are already among the best in the NHL and they just keep adding.