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Giordano: Calgary’s diamond in the rough

Aug 3, 2014, 9:55 PM EST

Calgary Flames v Florida Panthers Getty Images

When the 2014 Norris Trophy votes were tallied, Duncan Keith came out on top, but one interesting choice received a first-place nod: Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

Some probably snickered at the idea of handing a top vote to a relatively obscure blueliner who only appeared in 64 games (playing on one of the worst teams in the league), but there’s a reason Team Canada’s brass pondered adding him to the Olympic roster: he had an incredible 2013-14 season.

The 30-year-old wowed onlookers of just about any leaning, whether it be in the area of traditional narratives or “advanced stats.”

Giordano almost seemed to will a bad team to be respectable, with his impact on the ice being comically drastic at times, as Tyler Dellow pointed out. Despite facing very tough competition and being put in unfriendly situations (he didn’t get cozy zone starts), Giordano enjoyed great possession stats that only looked more amazing compared to his teammates.

Oh yeah, he also scored 47 points in 64 games, which is a pace of 60 over a full season. His status as the Flames captain combines with those offensive numbers to make him a favorite of “old-school” types while his ability to push the play (even in challenging situations) makes him commendable in the stats community.

Really, the only question that puts a slight damper on things is whether he can be quite as impressive in the future. Giordano has long been respected as an underrated defenseman, but those arguments were often made for him either getting a roster spot or more ice time. Can we expect him to regularly be in elite conversations?

Extra Skater’s numbers imply that he’s been a bit erratic, though regularly useful. Here’s a simplified version of their dashboard stats to give you an idea of the mix:

Season GP G P Corsi For% Corsi Rel% PDO Zone Start% ZS Rel% PK time QoC TOI% QoT TOI%
2010-2011 82 8 43 53.40% 0.027 99.1 52.70% -0.90% 36.50% 28.80% 27.00%
2011-2012 61 9 27 47.90% 0.007 100.9 52.60% 0.041 43.20% 29.00% 27.50%
2012-2013 47 4 15 47.50% -0.30% 98.5 40.30% -7.00% 53.10% 29.40% 28.30%
2013-2014 64 14 47 53.30% 0.103 99.6 43.10% -8.70% 56.10% 29.60% 29.10%

Overall, Giordano looks like he can be trusted to at least be good-to-very-good. He’s quietly become a dependable point producer, even if he may slow down from last season’s blistering pace. Even if he’s not the possession demon he was last season, he can probably at least survive in difficult situations or exploit beneficial ones. In other words, the hype surrounding Giordano seems largely reasonable.

It’s uncertain that he’ll be worthy of Norris consideration as he legitimately was last season, but the Flames will take all the quality players they can get … and Giordano has a strong chance to be the Flames’ best player (or at least among their best players) for some time.

If he comes anywhere close to last season’s work, don’t bat an eye if the Norris buzz only builds.

  1. lowenni - Aug 3, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    I totally think he can replicate last seasons success, maybe he won’t put up quite as many points, but he can still be just as good in terms of what he does. The guy can skate, pass, shoot, be physical, and knows what to do in all three zones. He’s actually got a pretty interesting career–he spent a year in Russia in the middle of his professional career before really making his mark in 2009 with Calgary. Giordano is a great captain and player for them, I would’ve said he was a top-8 defenseman last season. The Flames could surprise some people next year if they continue to develop, they didn’t score a lot last season but actually really weren’t that bad, they always impressed me with their work ethic and competitiveness. Giordano leads that movement.

    • James O'Brien - Aug 3, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      I’d be shocked if he was anything less than a strong asset next season, it’s really a matter of degrees with him.

      • lowenni - Aug 3, 2014 at 10:55 PM

        Yeah exactly. He might not put up the 60 points he was on pace for, that’s a lot, but like you said it’s only a matter of HOW great he’ll be for them.

  2. blomfeld - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    OH PUUUULLLLLLEEEEEEEZZZZZZ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Friends, there’s two things ‘readily’ apparent here …

    1) O’Brien has now revealed himself to be a ‘pro’ analytics communist !

    2) While the Calgary Flames no doubt ‘mean’ well, there situation is now even worse than first thought !

    *** Final 2014-15 WC standings as predicted by Stern Magazine ***

    1) LA Kings
    2) Minnesota North Stars
    3) Columbus Blue Jackets

    12) Edmonton Oilers
    13) Calgary Flames
    14) Vancouver Canucks

    executive summary: the Calgary Flames and their fans are a bunch of Flamers !!! :) :) :)

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:47 AM

      The Flames had a winning record against your team last year Blohard. In fact Giordano scored in the last minute to win a game at Staples.

    • wutangwild - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      North Stars…? Uh, that ended about 20 years ago.

  3. atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    Based on the contract that the Maple Leafs foolishly gave their captain this year it’s pretty easy to believe that Gio (someone who is actually a good captain) could command $8 million on the market in 2 years. He’s definitely a bargain at $4.02 million a year.

  4. wishingtonredslur - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    You’re an idiot. Go cycling with the Sedins and back away from word generating devices. The team Captain is merely an asset? The Flames roster is showing, youth, skill and depth and anyone who’d watched them last season would know that.

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