via Bob Condor of the Kraken website,
Kraken captain Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell will be playing postseason hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The two players were traded to Toronto Sunday in exchange for a trio of higher-round NHL Draft picks: two second-round choices, one for this July's draft and another for 2023; plus a third-round choice in 2024.
Seattle retains half of Giordano's $6.75 million annual average value (AAV) as per his contract, which ends this season. His salary represented 8.3 percent of the Kraken payroll and frees up half that amount as of Sunday's trade and the remaining amount in time for summer free agent signings.
"We want to thank Mark for his time with the Kraken," said General Manager Ron Francis. "As the organization's first captain, he made an immediate and lasting impact both on and off the ice.
"We appreciate the energy, passion and hard work that Colin brought to the rink every day and we wish him and Mark the best in Toronto."
The acquisition of the three formidable picks represents a much greater upside than losing Giordano and/or Blackwell at season's end. Both will be unrestricted free agents this summer and able to sign with any team.
Like all Kraken players, Giordano and Blackwell have spoken only glowingly about their time with the Kraken, praising the facilities, fans and the Pacific Northwest. But there would be no guarantee they remain with the team for 2022-23.
Kraken need to look no further to understand the value of NHL second-round picks than 25-year-old Carolina Hurricanes star center Sebastian Aho, whom Seattle GM Ron Francis drafted in the second round of the 2014 Draft when Francis was in the first year of the same role with the Carolina franchise.
Aho is Carolina's top scorer and a true leader on and off the ice. He has 27 goals and 34 assists for 61 points in 58 games with five game-winning goals. The Hurricanes are first-place in the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division and own the third most standings points in the league behind only Florida and Colorado.
Francis is the foundational architect of the Carolina squad, drafting effectively (Martin Necas, a top-five scorer among Carolina forwards who notched the game-winning goal in recent defeat of the Kraken), re-signing NHL-elite defensemen (Jaccob Slavin, Brent Pesce) to team-friendly contracts and making trades using a second-round draft choice among other assets (acquiring first-line forward Teuvo Teravainen to team with Aho).
In fact, Francis and his Carolina staff, which included Kraken director of amateur scouting, Robert Kron, and several now-Seattle scouts, made five second-round selections over four years. Along with Aho, two more players are NHL regulars contributing double-digit points and hard-nosed defensive play as forwards.
The second-round haul in Carolina from 2014 to 2017 includes rising star in the goaltending ranks, Alex Nedeljkovic, who shut out Vancouver Thursday and spectacularly held off the Kraken for two periods and 22 quality scoring chances and eight Grade-A opportunities in Saturday's Seattle win.
The Kraken now have three second-round draft choices this summer and 10 picks overall pending any further moves before the NHL trade deadline at 12 noon Monday. The second-round picks are their own (early second round) plus the picks owned by Toronto and Florida (by way of trading Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary).
Seattle will pick up four of the top 64 players selected in those first two rounds. The Kraken's draft order will be determined by the NHL Draft Lottery staged during the playoffs. No matter the overall lottery winner, the Kraken cannot fall more than three places from wherever they finish the regular season in terms of record.
Doing the hockey math, it means the Kraken have high odds for being slotted first, second or third overall with the likelihood of dropping no lower than fifth or sixth in the first round and subsequent rounds.
For playoff teams like Toronto and Florida, the draft order is determined by playoffs finish in reverse order with regular season records determining rank among teams eliminated in the same round.
For Kraken fans newer to the sport, the prospect of Francis and crew getting four of the top 64 picks in the next two drafts (one first-rounder and three second-rounders each) is highly enticing for the scouting and analytics staff in Seattle hockey operations.
Hockey by necessity requires four lines of forwards and three pairs of defense to contribute on a nightly basis. Getting four of the best 64 draft-eligible players in the next two summers will be a significant kickstart to building sustained success at the NHL level, plus with the new American League Hockey affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds, who start to play next season.
To wit: The Tampa Bay Lightning, two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, are built with players who won together in the AHL. One of those star players, postseason scoring star Nikita Kucherov, is a second-round draft choice himself.
Other second-rounders of note: Boston's future Hockey Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron, Edmonton defenseman Duncan Keith who won three Cups in Chicago, Norris Trophy defenseman Roman Josi of Nashville and 2019 Stanley MVP for St. Louis, Ryan O'Reilly. If you're looking for a younger star along with the aforementioned Aho, that would be Chicago's Alex DeBrincat, 24, currently with 34 goals and chasing a career-high of 41.
Both Giordano and Blackwell will no doubt be greatly missed by fans and teammates alike, plus the coaching staff deciding on forward lines and defensive pairings. It represents a chance for younger players, including those picked in last July's expansion draft currently playing for AHL affiliate Charlotte.
"Mark is the consummate professional and we appreciate his effort and leadership to help establish a culture here," said Francis.
Giordano, the Kraken's expansion draft choice from Calgary, notched six goals and 17 assists in 55 games with the Kraken, reaching the 1,000th NHL games milestone playing for Seattle. The 38-year-old Toronto native was second in time on ice only to alternate captain and fellow defenseman Adam Larsson.
Blackwell, selected as the Kraken pick from the New York Rangers in the expansion draft, notched eight goals and nine assists, playing his best hockey in recent weeks on a line with Yanni Gourde and Mason Appleton. Both Giordano and Blackwell have two shorthanded goals this season.
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