The Seattle Kraken announced that veteran defenseman Mark Giordano would be their first captain before they opened up their inaugural season against the Vegas Golden Knights. Giordano was the logical option, as he is a 15-year NHL veteran and captained the Calgary Flames for the past eight seasons. The only doubt surrounding Giordano’s candidacy was his age (he just turned 38) and his contract status (he can become a free agent after this season). Despite this, Seattle was evidently comfortable making Giordano their on-ice leader heading into the opener, and he didn’t disappoint.
It started before the puck even dropped, when news broke that several of Giordano’s teammates were in COVID-19 protocol and were in danger of missing the first game in franchise history. Giordano met with the media and relayed that no matter who was able to suit up, the Kraken would be ready for the challenge. Seattle was somewhat surprisingly able to dress Jamie Oleksiak, Joonas Donskoi, Jared McCann, and Marcus Johansson for the opener. The only remaining Kraken player in protocol is Calle Jarnkrok, who was the first player known to be in danger of missing the contest. Giordano’s comments relaxed the fans and gave them hope for the contest, and even though it didn’t end with a win, almost the full team was able to play and gave the fans an enjoyable return to hockey for the city of Seattle.
Giordano’s leadership also extended to his on-ice play in the franchise’s first contest. He led the team in ice time, logging over 23 minutes, and took a team-high 5 shots on goal. He added to his well-rounded performance by adding a hit and two blocks; Giordano finished the 4-3 loss with a minus-1 rating. He assumed his regular spot on Seattle’s top pair, but this time was paired with young Haydn Fleury. Fleury acted as his captain’s physical counterpart, laying down 5 hits while adding a shot on goal and a block for good measure. Continuing to play with Giordano could help Fleury expedite his development and become a legitimate top-four defenseman at the NHL level.
While Giordano’s future with the team may be uncertain, his 2021-22 season is off to a good start. Along with top-pair minutes at even strength, Giordano also took on the role of quarterback on the team’s top powerplay unit. He led the Kraken in powerplay ice time as well, playing an additional 3:27 with the man advantage. Seattle went 0-for-3 with the extra man, but Giordano’s unit with McCann, Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Wennberg was able to generate a good amount of zone time and offensive pressure. Seattle’s second powerplay unit was the strong one during the preseason, so it was good to see the top unit start to produce offense as well. Giordano should remain the point man on one of the two units, and looks to be a good fit with the top unit for now.
The Kraken were under no pressure to name a captain heading into their first season, but seemed impressed with all Giordano has brought to the franchise in his short time there. He brings 950 games of NHL experience to go along with over 500 points and four trips to the postseason. In just his first few days with the ‘C’, Giordano has contributed on and off the ice, and odds are he’s just getting started. Seattle’s success in their first season will be impacted heavily by the performances of Giordano and the rest of the Kraken leadership group, and the immediate results look to be overwhelmingly positive.