Mark Giordano was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck in Seattle on Wednesday and will provide leadership for the NHL’s newest team.
The defenseman played 15 seasons for the Calgary Flames, including the past eight as their captain.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels a little bit different today,” Giordano said. “It’s been a crazy last day or so. This is the first time in my career I’ve ever been drafted, so thank you to the Kraken and I’m happy to be here.
“It was a little bit weird yesterday knowing that I wasn’t going to go back to Calgary, but coming into this city, driving in, this is my first time here. It’s a beautiful city. You can feel the buzz. I’m ready to go and I feel great.”
Giordano joined Bobby Hull as the only players to play at least 15 seasons with one team before being selected in an NHL expansion draft. Hull played 15 seasons for the Chicago Black Hawks before being picked by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft.
He also tied the record for most NHL games played by a defenseman before being selected in an expansion draft (949). Rob Ramage played in that many games with the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues, Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota North Stars before being chosen by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 NHL Expansion Draft.
The Kraken, who begin play as the NHL’s 32nd team next season, selected 30 players, one per team, excluding the Vegas Golden Knights, who are exempt after joining the NHL as an expansion team in 2017-18. They had to choose at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, and at least 20 players who are under contract for next season.
“Just offer them any advice I can really give them as an older guy who has been around for a long time,” Giordano said about his leadership role. “As you guys see, we have a fairly young team, a lot of young talent, but that’s the NHL now. So many guys who are superstars in our league are under the age of 25, so looking forward to helping out as much as I can.”
Giordano has one season remaining on a six-year contract he signed with Calgary on Aug. 25, 2015 and can become an unrestricted free agent after next season. The 37-year-old won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL in 2018-19 when he scored an NHL career-high 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists) in 78 games.
Giordano also won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities on and off the ice and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey, in 2019-20, and the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2015-16, which was given to the NHL player who best demonstrated commitment, perseverance and teamwork to enrich the lives of people in his community. The award was discontinued for the 2017-18 season.
He is one of 19 players to win an NHL award before being selected in an expansion draft.
Giordano scored 509 points (143 goals, 366 assists) with Calgary, including 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 56 games this season. He led the Flames in average ice time in seven of the past eight seasons, including this season (22:57). Giordano scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He was the oldest player selected by Seattle; Jordan Eberle, chosen from the New York Islanders was second oldest (31).
Signed by Calgary as an undrafted free agent on July 6, 2004, Giordano played seven games with the Flames in 2005-06 and 48 in 2006-07 before playing the 2007-08 season with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Giordano returned to the Flames in 2008-09, scoring 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 58 games while averaging 16:13 in ice time.
Although Giordano was one of the biggest names selected by the Kraken, they passed on other top players available, including Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who are each under contract, and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 28.