By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Writer
Mark Giordano played his 1,000th regular-season NHL game in a Seattle Kraken uniform and skated in four more before the team sat him to avoid the risk of injury.
The respected veteran defenseman and first captain of the expansion franchise was even a healthy scratch when he was honored at home for the milestone. Giordano’s 1,005th game almost certainly will be with another team.
After the recent trades of Claude Giroux to Florida, Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay and Hampus Lindholm to Boston, Giordano and reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury are the most prominent players still available before the deadline. Dozens of depth moves are expected before 3 p.m. EDT Monday, with contenders in the Eastern and Western Conferences bulking up for long playoff runs.
Here’s a look at who could be on the move:
More important than any regular-season numbers, Giordano would love to get back to the playoffs and take a run at the Stanley Cup. Despite playing 16 NHL seasons — the first 15 with the Calgary Flames — he has dressed in only 23 playoff games.
Even at 38, Giordano has a game well-suited for playoff hockey, and his presence would give any team a boost in a locker room of players trying to help a guy hoist the Cup in his twilight years.
It’s more “if” Fleury will be traded than “where to” because he has strong protection in his contract and the Blackhawks’ word that they will move him only if that’s his choice. It’s quite possible nothing materializes and he remains in Chicago the rest of the season.
The Washington Capitals in recent weeks asked around about multiple goaltenders, including Fleury. But after so many memorable playoff series against the Capitals while with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury doesn’t seem keen on helping a former rival and potentially facing his old team.
After helping the Penguins win the Cup three times and backstopping the Vegas Golden Knights to the final in their inaugural season in 2018, maybe Fleury can be convinced to help the Toronto Maple Leafs try for their first championship since 1967.
Similar to Giroux, who had a full no-movement clause and the ability to choose Florida as his destination, Fleury hand-picking a team could limit Chicago’s leverage to get a strong return.
It’s not normal for 23-year-old defensemen signed for three more seasons to be available this time of year, and this one is complicated by injury. But Chychrun is coming off a season in which he finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting with the Arizona Coyotes and would be a top-four if not top-pairing contributor for a contender interested in trying to take a few cracks at the Cup.
Based on the Bruins trading a first-round pick, two second-rounders and prospect Urho Vaakanainen to the Anaheim Ducks for Lindholm — whom they then signed for $52 million over eight years — the price for Chychrun could be even higher. But the Coyotes are still early in a full-scale, long-term rebuild, so they are motivated to stockpile future assets.
Speaking of Arizona being motivated to make trades, moving Kessel is a no-brainer. A two-time Cup champion with Fleury in Pittsburgh, the veteran winger has struggled to produce on one of the league’s worst teams, but he could certainly do more with better talent around him.
Kessel was almost a point-a-game player on the Penguins’ Cup runs in 2016 and 2017 and still has something left in the tank at 34.
A pending unrestricted free agent, Domi could be on to his fourth NHL organization at age 27. He spent the past two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who could also trade pending free agent goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Dean Kukan.
Domi, whom the Capitals have shown interest in, would like Kessel benefit from playing with different linemates and the chance to make a long postseason run. He has played in only 10 playoff games, all with Montreal in the bubble in 2020.
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